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May 2019

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ASI unearths treasure at U.P. site

The Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) ongoing excavation of 4,000-year-old burial sites in Uttar Pradesh’s Sanauli has unearthed underground “sacred chambers”, decorated “legged coffins” as well as rice and dal in pots and animal bones buried with the bodies, ASI Institute of Archaeology director S.K. Manjul said on Tuesday. The excavation in the Baghpat district of U.P. was first started in 2018 and resumed in January this year, Dr. Manjul said, adding that the process of listing and preservation at the site was on at the moment. He said three chariots, some coffins, shields, swords and helmets had been unearthed, pointing towards the existence of a “warrior class in the area around 2,000 BCE”. “As an excavator, I think this is different from Harappan culture. It is contemporary to the last phase of the mature Harappan culture.

These findings are important to understand the culture pattern of the Upper Ganga-Yamuna doab. We found copper swords, helmets, shields and chariots,” said Dr.

Manjul. The excavators have found rice and urad dal in pots, cattle bones, wild pig and mongoose buried along with bodies, he said. “These may have been offered to the departed souls. We also found sacred chambers below the ground. After the procession, they put the body in the chamber for some treatment or rituals,” he said. Right now, the ASI is in the process of carrying out DNA, metallurgical and botanical analysis of samples and ground penetrating radar survey of the site, Dr. Manjul said.

Largest necropolis
While Dr. Manjul said he felt the site was different from the Harappan culture, an ASI statement on the excavation said: “Sanauli is located on the left bank of the River Yamuna, 68 km north-east of Delhi which brought to light the largest necropolis of the late Harappan period datable to around early part of second millennium BCE”. In one of the burial pits, the excavators found a wooden legged coffin that was decorated with steatite inlays with a female skeleton, the ASI said.

The pit also contained an armlet of semiprecious stones, pottery and an antenna sword placed near the head. Another area of the site included remains of four furnaces with three working levels and the “overall ceramic assemblage has late Harappan characters”, the ASI statement said.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/asi-unearths-treasure-at-up-site/article26996341.ece, May 1, 2019

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Project to rebuild Mairie likely to miss deadline

More than one-and-a-half years after the foundation stone for rebuilding the Mairie building was laid, the project is likely to miss its May 2019 deadline due to slow pace of work. The iconic 19th century landmark on Beach Road collapsed in 2014 under the impact of incessant rain. The project is being implemented by the Project Implementation Agency (PIA) while the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) is the architectural consultant. The building was to be completed in 18 months, said an official on condition of anonymity.

“While a major portion of construction of the structure has been completed, the work of fixing the wooden rafters, doors and windows and interior decoration is incomplete. Work is also on to complete plastering of the ceiling and laying of wooden flooring on the first floor of the building. The new structure will be modelled on the original using modern materials,” the official said. The project, with a financial assistance of ?14.83 crore from the World Bank, will include the office of the Registrar of Births and Deaths, council and committee section and a hall on the first floor.

Important landmark
Built in 1870-71, the building is an important landmark in the city. It formed part of an ensemble of important structures such as the old lighthouse, customs house and the French Consulate on Goubert Avenue. Considered a symbol of their colonial power, the French named the premises “Town Hall” (Hotel De Ville), which housed the office of the Mayor of Puducherry, the Municipal Council, the Registry and other offices, including the office of Registrar of Births and Deaths.

It was the biggest administrative building for 100 years and a symbolic landmark during the French regime. It was in this building that the first attempt at democracy for Puducherry was tried out in 1870-1900 long before the first general elections were held in the British India, according to INTACH. The building housed the Legislative Assembly of Puducherry for four years from 1964 (when the first general election was held in the wake of de jure transfer of power) before the Assembly was shifted to the present premises in 1969. The premises also was used for marriages and other public functions.

The eastern and western façade of the building featured arcaded entrance with a verandah on high plinth accessed by a broad flight of steps in dressed granite. The first floor had coloured galleries and a large ceremonial hall with wooden flooring.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/project-to-rebuild-mairie-likely-to-miss-deadline/article27005579.ece, May 2, 2019

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Flora Fountain Mumbai: Landscaping at final stage, fountain plaza to be fully open in a month

The restoration work is being carried out by INTACH Mumbai Chapter along with INTACH Conservation Institute.” According to the heritage team, the restoration contract will cost Rs 1.73 crore while the beautification contract will cost Rs 2.42 crore. The plaza work includes specially cut basalt stones from Gujarat and facade lighting from Japan. In a month’s time, the iconic Flora Fountain, where the landscaping work is in its final stages, will be fully accessible to public after a two-year restoration. AdvertisingThe Flora Fountain was unveiled in January this year when the first phase of its restoration ended.

- https://www.nyoooz.com/news/mumbai/1368045/flora-fountain-mumbai-landscaping-at-final-stage-fountain-plaza-to-be-fully-open-in-a-month/, May 2, 2019

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Dahanu to get centre dedicated to turtle conservation

IN A FIRST: Awareness Centre will be designed in shape of a giant green sea turtle. If all goes as planned Dahanu, could soon boast of a first of its kind state-of-the-art awareness and research centre dedicate to turtles, which would be set up close to the Dahanu beach. The centre will itself be designed in the shape of a giant green sea turtle. Members of NGO Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare Association (WCAWA) who jointly run the turtle treatment and transit centre along with forest department at Dahanu beach, gave a detailed presentation to Principal Secretary (Forest) Vikas Kharge who on April 28 visited the centre.

Rahul Marathe, Range Forest Officer (RFO), Dahanu said that the Principal Secretary (Forest) was impressed with the facility and during the presentation, both upgrading of the existing transit centre and setting up of the new awareness centre was discussed at length.

"He has asked us to procure sophisticated medical instruments including X-Ray machines and upgrade the transit centre.

Also for awareness centre, we will be preparing a detailed proposal soon," he said. The WCAWA has proposed an awareness centre of 120sqfeet X 120sqfeet and 25 feet in height, which will also have a dedicated research centre including a library to help anyone carrying out research on turtles. "The thought is to create a world-class interpretation centre for tourists especially school and college students for creating awareness about turtles for which new-age mediums of engagements like interactive touch screen panels as well as displays would be placed," said Dr Dinesh Vinherkar, wildlife veterinarian and turtle expert associated with WCAWA adding that the centre will become a tourist attraction in Dahanu.

Dhaval Kansara, founder of WCAWA informed that there will be taxidermy models of different types of turtles installed as well. "The centre will also have selfie points and will also offer visitors a peek into the daily life and culture of the tribals and fishing communities from Dahanu," he informed. "The transit centre also needs a complete makeover with larger tanks for the turtles, modern operation theatre for complex surgeries on the amphibians, X-ray machines. We are glad that even the Principal Secretary (Forest) agreed to it and has asked us to prepare an MOU with the forest department," said Vinherkar.

GIANT LEAP
Dahanu turtle treatment and transit centre, on an average, rescues, treats and rehabilitates over 60 turtles including Olive Ridley, Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbills and Loggerheads every year.

- https://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-dahanu-to-get-centre-dedicated-to-turtle-conservation-2745432, May 2, 2019

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In sight, but out of mind: Memorial for martyred WW-I soldiers in Bengaluru lies unsung

A war memorial? Here, on Brigade Road? Oh, you mean the G3 bus stop?,” asked a surprised college student when we enquired if she knew about the Madras Pioneers War Memorial. Ask someone about the battle of Saragarhi now, and they might be able to tell you how towards the end of 1800s, a handful of Sikh soldiers (who were part of the British Army) stood their ground against 10,000 Afghan invaders. The martyred soldiers were recognised by the British for their grit and bravery, and thanks to the recently released Akshay Kumar-starrer Kesari, more people seem to be aware of the tale. Closer home, CE decided to pay a visit to the Madras Pioneers War Memorial on Brigade Road and found that most people were oblivious to the monument located at the end of the road, opposite Samsung Opera House.

The memorial was erected in 1928, after the first World War, and an inscription on the stone reads: ‘Erected by their comrades in memory of officers, non-commissioned officers and pioneers of the first Madras Pioneers who gave their lives during the Great War 1914-18’. Tejshvi Jain, founding director of ReReeti, an organisation involved in promotion of museums, galleries and heritage sites, said: “The city was a huge cantonment and the Maharaja of Mysore, along with other rulers of princely states, were obliged to help the Queen. So the soldiers sent included many British officers from Bengaluru and Indian sepoys as well.” Surrounded by a couple of benches, the memorial looks clean.

Vendors selling their ware nearby told CE that BBMP sanitation workers visit the site every morning. However, the grey-stoned structure (with inscriptions about how many British and Indian officers, NGOs and pioneers from three battalions of the Madras Pioneers participated in the war) stands tall, but hardly proud, as passersby don’t even pay attention to it. Most seem to be waiting for their next bus while one or two lie down under a tree. According to Girish Salian, a vendor, people visit the memorial for about 10-15 minutes. “The crowd seems to increase in the evening but most are waiting for their bus as opposed to actually paying attention to the structure,” he said. Agreed Nalina PS, a student from St Joseph’s College of Commerce, who was waiting for a bus back home. “It’s sad but people utilise the benches and space available while waiting for their next ride, while only foreigners or tourists are actually interested in the monument,” she said.

Salian, and other vendors, do, however, point out that the monument is lit up in the evenings, a change that was incorporated close to a year ago. Information boards, however, are still missing. “People wonder what the structure is doing here, so it would help to have a signboard to make people aware of what they are looking at,” said Jain. Meera Iyer, convenor of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Bengaluru chapter, agreed, adding, “There are many places around the city that need placards explaining their historical importance. This memorial is definitely one of them.” Peek into history The Madras Pioneers War Memorial was erected in 1928 by Captain Tasker Taylor. “The London Cenotaph was constructed in 1920 and the architecture of the memorial in Bengaluru is supposed to be similar to the former,” said INTACH convenor Meera Iyer, adding that the name was eventually changed to Sapper War Memorial.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/2019/apr/02/in-sight-but-out-of-mind-memorial-for-martyred-ww-i-soldiers-in-bengaluru-lies-unsung-1959313.html, May 3, 2019

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Revive Hyderabad's music heritage: Anjani Kumar

Hyderabad was once the capital of classical music, recalled Hyderabad City Police Commissioner of Anjani Kumar. The city had extended patronage to the artists who settled here from around the globe, he added. Mr Anjani Kumar was speaking on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Padma Bhushan Bade Ghulam Ali Khan at Daira Mir Momin, Sultan Shahi, where the great artist was laid to rest. He said there was a need to enlighten the new generation about classical music and the legends in this field.

Mr Anjani Kumar said he knew of Bade Ghulam Ali since college when he heard for the first time his ‘yaad piya ki aaye...’ . He said Hyderabad was the capital of the classical music of India and there was a need to revive this form of music again. He said, “If we arrange concerts and invite artists from other parts of India to perform here, our new generation who are zealous about pop and YouTube music will experience the beauty of classic music, which is the root of music.”

He said that the government and his department would organise programmes to revive our cultural heritage. Convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage P. Anuradha Reddy said that when one hears of Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali one is reminded about classical music and Mughal e Azam. “Music unites people of different faiths and backgrounds,” she said. She said that 90 per cent of the residents of Hyderabad were not aware about our legends and their contribution in various fields. There was a need to arrange concerts in memory of great personalities like Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. “It will help to enlighten people about the great personalities of our city and to those who settled here.

The Government should extend its help to those organizations which are promoting art,” she said. Mrs. Anuradha Reddy expressed her concern over the Metro Rail route which goes from Imliban to Falaknuma via Darusshifa, which may hide and damage many heritage structures and monumental places. She said that on the stretch between Imliban and Sultan Shahi, there were many historical places and monumental structures like Darusshifa, Munshi Naan, Aashoorkhanas and Daira Mir Momin. “How many heritage structures will be ruined for this project? Why are they avoiding underground routes?” she asked.

- https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/030419/revive-hyderabads-music-heritage-anjani-kumar.html, May 3, 2019

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Indian Railways Kacheguda railway station gets a beautiful makeover! Stunning images of the heritage building

The Kacheguda railway station is an iconic station and has among the most exquisite buildings from the railway terminals in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The station has been given a beautiful makeover. Indian Railways has given a passenger-friendly makeover to the Kacheguda railway station in Telangana, while preserving its heritage structure look and feel. The Kacheguda railway station is an iconic station and has among the most exquisite buildings from the railway terminals in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. According to a railway official that Financial Express Online spoke to, Indian Railways has upgraded the Kacheguda railway station while maintaining its iconic structure. “The structure of the Kacheguda railway station is around 100 years old and since it is a heritage building. we have preserved its look, painting it from time to time. The upgradation drive has been carried out within the existing structure, focusing on enhancing passenger amenities,” the official told Financial Express Online. We take a look at what the upgraded Kacheguda railway station offers:

1.The Kacheguda station has been converted to an energy efficient railway station with 100 per cent LED lighting. The station has solar panels with capacity of 400 KwP. With these, the anticipated savings per year recorded by the station is around 6.5 lakh energy units worth Rs 48 lakh in bills and around 606 tonnes of CO2 reduction on a yearly basis.

2. As part of environment-friendly initiatives, bio-toilets or green toilets have been installed on the station platforms. Two disposable water bottle crushing machines, water recycling plant is also located at the platforms. Sanitary Napkin incinerators are also provided along with sanitary napkin vending machines in the ladies waiting halls.

3. A sewage treatment plant was set up at the station which yields 3.5 lakh litres on a daily basis and caters to 25 per cent requirements of the station. Water from the recycling plant is used for cleaning of concrete apron of all platforms, pit lines, exteriors of coaches, watering the gardens etc.

4. The interiors of the railway station have been decorated with cheriyal paintings which is symbolic of the tradition and culture of Telangana for the passengers who come from all over the country. The walls of the station entrance and platform one are painted with Warli art.

5. The station is identified as the first of its kind railway station of the Indian Railways network which has introduced DigiPay for railway customers to transact any amount on the digital payment gateway with the use of debit/credit cards, mobile paperless ticketing and payment through the use of digital wallets. Additionally, free high speed Wi-Fi service of ‘Rail Wire’ is provided as part of the ‘Digital India’ program in collaboration with Google.

6. Many amenities for passengers are provided at the station such as lifts, escalators and complete cover over sheds on all platforms. The renovated retiring rooms are priced at rate affordable rates for passengers at the station. Along with this, the ‘NavRaS’ application and ‘Rail Station Info’ for facilitating the information about various passenger facilities at the station.

7. There is a lounge at the station for short duration stay of passengers. Cab facility as well as pre-paid auto booth service are available through mobile applications for passengers.

8. The Kacheguda Station is ranked at the 14th position in the All India cleanliness awards of ‘A1’ category stations in a third party audit survey conducted by Quality Council of India (QCI). The station has been awarded with the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) heritage award and has one of its kind exclusive Rail Museum, displaying the heritage old railway equipments.

- https://www.financialexpress.com/infrastructure/railways/indian-railways-kacheguda-railway-station-gets-a-beautiful-makeover-stunning-images-of-the-heritage-building/1569359/, May 6, 2019

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Governor addresses academic discourse studies

While noting that every citizen has to be a game changer in their own capacities in bringing significant changes in the country, Nagaland Governor PB Acharya has advocated empowerment of citizens through right education. He urged the people of the North East to change their mindset instead of considering themselves as backward while addressing the academic gathering at Sangai Hall, Hotel Imphal on May 5.

Speaking as the chief guest, Governor Acharya said that India will be able to stand up only when everyone takes their own responsibilities and play the role of a game changer in their own capacities. Further stating that education, empowerment, electricity and employment were the basic impetus for development, he opined that universities should be able to give right and extensive knowledge to students/youth, so that they can make use of their wisdom in bringing development in the society. He also observed that the main aim of universities should be to strengthen the society by empowering students/people through education. He said that North East region was blessed with rich natural resources and stated that graduates and educated people should focus on how to utilize them.

He further expressed his desire for educated people in the North East region to take advantage of the region’s rich natural resources and bring development in the region. Manipur University’s retired Professor N Joykumar who also delivered a speech on the topic “Historical Prospect of North East India” at the programme stated that North East region had played vital role in the process of anti-imperialist movement in India, while citing Bir Tikendrajit, Rani Gaidinliu and HijamIrabot among others as examples. He then observed that the regional history is more important than National history adding that India’s National history is created by the regional histories of India.

INTACH, Manipur Chapter Convener Dr RK Ranjan delivered the key-note address. PRO to Governor in a press release stated that the academic discourse was organised by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Manipur Chapter.

- http://morungexpress.com/governor-addresses-academic-discourse-studies/, May 6, 2019

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Raising the big concern

The iconic Charminar lost a large chunk of its ornamental lime stucco work as it crashed to the ground this week, raising concerns over the mosque’s future. As a big chunk of decorative lotus petals and flowers that came off from one of the mosque’s four minarets late Wednesday night, causing people to wonder if age was catching up with the 428-year-old mosque.

Ratish Nanda, conservation architect and CEO of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, who has worked closely with Archaeological Survey of India, the custodian of the monument, explained why he’s not very concerned about the incident. He said, “During a previous conservation work, weight may have been added to the bits of designs that came off. Symbols like the lotus project outwards from the walls, which can cause an imbalance. So the issue was not a structural problem.

It should not have happened. My gut instinct is that the structure overall is in a pretty stable condition.” Nanda, added that one positive outcome from the incident would be if the ASI received additional manpower and funds for their work.

He added, “It’s an extremely important and unique structure with none other like it in purpose in the country. Hopefully the attention the incident has garnered will mean that the ASI gets more funds and manpower for their work.” But at a time of advanced technology, can’t modern methods be used to protect the heritage structure? Divay Gupta, principal director of Architectural Heritage division at INTACH explains, “I don’t think modern technology can make it easier or more difficult to maintain the Charminar.

It may not be useful to restore the structure as it needs traditional materials, but it can be used in other ways, such as monitoring it. For examples constantly checking for any deteriorating cracks, gathering water, etc.” Divay added that it’s challenging to keep a historic building in good shape as increased pollution, climate change and tourist pressure also take a toll.

Samir D’Monte, founder of SDM Architects was surprised that it happened under ASI supervision. “It could be due to water seeping in or stagnating or fungal growth. But to cover the massive amount of heritage structures in India must be hugely challenging for the ASI.” The ASI was contacted for a response but a spokeswoman confirmed the team was on site at the Charminar and unavailable for comments.

- https://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/060519/raising-the-big-concern.html, May 6, 2019

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Heritage walk to tree plantation:Poll authorities in Delhi raising voting awareness innovatively

A heritage walk through the bylanes of Old Delhi, tree plantation by local residents and a qawwali evening are among the innovative ways through which the poll body in the city is raising awareness on voting ahead of the May 12 election here. Delhi's Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Ranbir Singh said the Systematic Voter's Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) team and the Returning Officers in the seven constituencies have also taken several initiatives to achieve maximum outreach.

Singh said a huge hydrogen balloon has been installed in Amar Colony to attract people's attention and it carries a message 'Vote on May 12'. "The Election Commission has made endeavours to ensure no voter is left behind and we have taken various steps in Delhi to reach out to voters, in interior areas and in open parks, among other places, but innovation is the key," Singh said. As many as 164 candidates are in fray in Delhi, where the polls is largely being seen as a triangular contest among the AAP, BJP and the Congress.

Of the over 1.43 crore eligible voters in Delhi, 78,73,022 are male and 64,42,762 female, while 669 belong to the third gender. "While devising various initiatives under the SVEEP programme, the idea was to reach out to those places a well where turnout have been low in the past. And a number of wonderful initiatives being taken across the constituency, we are hoping that there would be an increase in voter turnout this year," Singh told . Seeking to reach out to people in the Walled City, Delhi CEO Office, in partnership with INTACH and a local NGO, had organised a heritage walk in its bylanes, raising awareness on the city's built legacy as well on voting simultaneously.

"During the walk, several people got curious and joined it and that helps in raising awareness as our officials carry pamphlets and other educational material for distribution," he said. They are also reaching out to morning walkers and joggers in various parks and handling them pamphlets and other voter awareness material.

A qawalli performance by Nizami brothers was held recently in the premises of a college in Chandni Chowk constituency, besides a special app dedicated to facilitate voters in accessing poll-related information, that was launched late April. In North West Delhi constituency, a plantation drive has been started under which polling officials would encourage people to plant trees while taking pledge to vote, officials said, adding that about 1.25 lakh trees are to be planted under the drive. The Delhi CEO had recently also taken a ride in the Delhi Metro to reach out to voters and appealed to them to vote on May 12 when the seven parliamentary constituencies in Delhi goes to polls. The seven constituencies are -- Chandni Chowk, North Delhi, West Delhi, North West Delhi, South Delhi, East Delhi and New Delhi.

Singh said our endeavour has been to reach out to both young and old voters, first-timers and centennial ones. Under the SVEEP programme, wrap advertisements have been put up on DTC buses, metro trains, and hoarding have also been mounted to raise awareness on voting. Special awareness programmes have also been carried out to reach out to third gender voters and those with disabilities. The Election Commission has also kept a theme of 'Accessible Election' for the 2019 polls.

A dance performance by a troupe of differently abled artists, who hold a Guinness World Record, is slated to take place Tuesday evening at Dilli Haat, Janakpuri as part of an initiative by the District Election Officer (West). As an innovative measure, even in Delhi Jal Board bills, a line of appeal to vote has been printed to raise awareness. KND KJ KJ KJ

- https://www.outlookindia.com/newsscroll/heritage-walk-to-tree-plantationpoll-authorities-in-delhi-raising-voting-awareness-innovatively/1530021, May 7, 2019

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Efficient public transport system eludes Puducherry

The lack of an efficient and dedicated public transport system in Puducherry is proving to be a bugbear for the general public and for policy makers in the Union Territory. While Puducherry has made stupendous progress in almost all sectors over the years, a virtual failure on the part of successive governments to ensure proper public transportation system is marring the merits of development.

Revenue hike

In spite of the unbridled increase in the number of vehicles, including non-transport ones, and a significant hike in revenue to the government through the transport sector, there has been no proper plan to put in place an effective public transportation system in the U.T.

Official sources claimed that the number of two-wheelers and cars alone had registered a significant jump over the years, while vehicles under the non-transport category remained stable. Statistics available with the Regional Transport Department revealed that as many as 11,27,940 vehicles were plying in the Union Territory. This included a whopping 7,70,839 two-wheelers, 6,993 three-wheelers (autos and tempos), 3,684 buses and 3,794 omni buses.

While vehicles grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of close to 35% in the U.T., the growth of public transport vehicles was a meagre 0.38% of the buses per 1,000 population, according to a report of the Transport Department. Another disturbing feature is that although the transport sector offers good scope for the government to tap revenue, the number of vehicles, especially buses operated by the government, is far less than those operated by the private sector to link Puducherry to different locations.

“A majority of the residents are dependent only on autos and tempos to commute daily. Once an effective public transportation system is put in place, people will only prefer them, dispensing with the need to have more vehicles on the roads,” R. Venkatesh, a resident, said. Presently, Puducherry presents a picture of almost every household owning not less than three two-wheelers.

The congestion on the roads, coupled with poor traffic management, is also due to want of proper urban mobility planning. Inspite of repeated representations, no action has been evolved so far, said another official. Ashok Panda, co-convenor of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), said: “An efficient public transport system has to be put in place, so that more people use it. Only battery-operated tempos/autos and mini buses should be allowed to run in Boulevard Town. Air-conditioned mini buses could also be operated at a higher price to enable more people to use public transport.

Many cities have only e-rickshaws or battery-operated auto-rickshaws. Puducherry needs to get started on this idea which is very much suited for the Old Town.” A pilot project could be taken up in the French quarters with electric vehicles plying from the north to south on every street, he said. Tourists could park their vehicles at Subbaiya Salai or the Old Port area and the inner streets could become a fully no-parking zone with one-way traffic. The Beach Promenade, which is fully pedestrian from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. (the next day), is very popular with residents of Puducherry and the tourists. A similar initiative can be taken up with the Dumas and the Romain Street from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m, Mr. Panda added. The Smart City project, being funded by the Government of India, gives good opportunity to take up these initiatives - cycle lanes to bring back bicycles and more pedestrian space for people to walk wouls be ideal. Puducherry could set a whole new trend in India, Mr. Panda said. According to a Transport Department official, Intelligent Public Transport System is the need of the hour in Puducherry.

In an effort aimed at the overhaul of the public transport system, the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited (DIMTS) had submitted its Comprehensive Mobility Plan to the Government. The CMP, submitted in 2015, had suggested that tempos, which are currently plying in Puducherry, be gradually replaced with e-rickshaws, he said.

Urban mobility plan

The Comprehensive Mobility Plan will be incorporated in the Comprehensive Development Plan, which will be implemented under the Smart City project. Agence Francaise Development (AFD), the French bilateral agency, has come up with a plan for urban mobility for Puducherry. However, the government suggested that urban mobility be included for the entire U.T. and AFD had agreed to the proposal, he said.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/efficient-public-transport-system-eludes-puducherry/article27061337.ece, May 8, 2019

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200-year-old boat dug up at Lucknow's Chhattar Manzil

Residents of Lucknow and heritage enthusiasts from the world over had for long heard that boats were used from Chhattar Manzil to cross the Gomti river, on whose banks the 19th century palace still stands. There was no proof until Wednesday, when a major discovery put the archaeological seal on a popular folklore.

A wooden boat, dating back some 200 years, was excavated at Chhattar Manzil by a team of conservation architects working towards the restoration of the building. Dug up from 19ft below ground, the giant boat made of individual planks is 50ft long and 12ft wide. It is tell-tale evidence that the Nawabs of Awadh did use boats from the steps of their palace to cross Gomti.

"It is a major discovery that archaeologically validates the long-held hypothesis that boats were used for commute from the palace to the other shore," said director of state archaeology department AK Singh. The team of conservationists from the faculty of architecture, which is the consultant for the entire Chhattar Manzil project, first spotted the wooden planks around 9am. "We got busy digging manually - and carefully.

It took us two hours to retrieve the boat, which appears to be from the Nawabi period and was found docked in position," said conservation architect Kumar Kartikey. Kumar clarified that the boat was not from the time when Lucknow was flooded in 1960. "By that time, there was already a road called thandi sadak on this side. So, we should have found debris, but we found silt, which means it was the riverbed," he explained.

The boat is being temporarily preserved on the spot and in the future may be moved to a glass chamber inside the palace museum, said conservationist Nitin Kohli. He added that the state department had informed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) about the discovery and its expertise would be sought on preservation.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/200-year-old-boat-dug-up-at-chhattar-manzil/articleshow/69243586.cms, May 9, 2019

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INTACH preparing dossier for Srinagar's heritage city bid

The Jammu and Kashmir chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) on Thursday said it is preparing a dossier to be submitted to the Union Human Resource Development Ministry for inclusion of Srinagar in the list of UNESCO heritage cities.

"We are applying for Srinagar city to be listed as a UNESCO heritage city under the category of crafts and folk arts'," Saleem Beg, convener of the state chapter of INTACH told IANS.

The dossier has to be submitted by June 30, he added. There is one slot each year for an Indian city to be recognised as a UNESCO heritage city. "In order to make a strong case for the inclusion of Srinagar city in the list, we are working together with the Development and Research Organisation for Nature, Arts and Heritage (DRONAH)," he said.

Beg said that they had to take DRONAH on board "because the state government has laid down a condition that only that organisation can tender for getting a city listed as a UNESCO heritage city that had at least once successfully competed with the tender". "DRONAH had last year succeeded in getting Jaipur listed as a UNESCO heritage city.

Till now Jaipur is the only city in India to have made to the prestigious list in the category of a 'crafts city'. The other two cities, Chennai and Banaras (Varanasi), are in the UNESCO heritage list in the 'music city' category," he added. Beg said Srinagar has a strong case since it is a 2,200-year-old city with historical standing in crafts and folk arts drawing on its centuries-old connections with Central Asia. Founded originally during the reign of the Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire around 250 B.C., he said that crafts and folk arts flourished greatly in this city during the reign of local Sultan, Zainul Abidin (c 1420-70), known popularly as 'Budshah' (The Great King) of the Shah Mir dynasty.

"Among the arts introduced here during this period are papier-mache, khatamband, carpet weaving, sozni, wood-carving, pashmina etc.", he said. Beg said that if the heritage city tag was approved, crafts and folk arts of Srinagar city and the rest of Kashmir would get a new lease of life. "There would be an implementation programme of three to four years that would be aimed at sustainable development of Srinagar through a vigorous policy of revival of these otherwise fast vanishing crafts and arts," he said.

- https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/intach-preparing-dossier-for-srinagar-s-heritage-city-bid-119050901309_1.html, May 10, 2019

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In a colony of their own

Their story began on a honey sweet note. They were intrigued by the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of the Paliyan tribals, the Adivasis based in the Palani Hills of Tamil Nadu, and wanted to be a part of it. The practice of gathering honey, and the prospect of helping the Adivasis sell the wild viscous nectar got the Bengaluru-based duo, Nishitha Vasanth and Priyashri Mani, to move to Kodaikanal. “In 2015, we visited villages in the Palani Hills to understand the Adivasis who live there and take care of the forests.

As we documented their history for a project funded by INTACH Delhi, we discovered the traditional practice of gathering honey. They asked us if we like to buy some honey for ourselves. We soon realised we were buying more than we could consume and hence decided to sell it. Things grew organically from then on," says Priyashri. What began as an exchange of ideas eventually resulted in Hoopoe on a Hill (HoH), adds Nishita. “The Adivasis have a long tradition of trading honey. Earlier, they would exchange it for clothes or salt or whatever they needed, but now, they do it for money,” says Priyashri. “We don’t claim to change lives.

I think it is presumptuous to assume that something like this can have such a huge impact. Although everyone is constantly looking for simplistic narratives of change, we feel meaningful change is a much longer and slower process, and we are interested in that,” says Priyashri. The duo was initially amazed by how the Paliyans, foray into the Shola forests in groups for days on end to gather honey. “They camp in the forests and build their tools on the spot with vines and dried twigs. A small prayer is offered before skilful climbers clamber up (trees, caves or cliffs) to the hives. They smoke out the bees, dely collecting only the honey chamber of the hive. The honeycombs are brought down and the honey is extracted. Leaving behind hives for the following season and the bees, they return with cans of honey on their long journey home,” says Priyashri.

Nishita says this knowledge and skill has been passed down over many generations. There are cultural practices and rituals or ‘ways of doing things’ within the community that upholds values of sustainability and prevents over-consumption. “The Paliyans lead much more ‘sustainable’ lives than us. So we try and learn rather than teach them lessons on sustainability,” Nishita says. The Paliyans have a tradition of not killing the bees for their nectar. During the harvesting process, bees are temporarily smoked out of their hives so they return to their homes aer the harvesting. “Only the honey chamber is cut from the comb, leaving behind the brood intact so that bees can simply rebuild the honey chamber in the following season. Also, the scale of the harvest is limited by the fact that no machines or large scale harvesting techniques are employed. The harvest is still done by individual Adivasis who have to camp several nights in the forest to collect honey. The entrepreneurs have ensured a constant market for the harvest. According to Priyashri, during the honey season, the Adivasis have access to relatively larger sums of money which is used to cover bigger expenses like school fees, weddings, paying back loans etc. Compared with daily wage work, this activity generates more capital within the community, Nishita says.

Just like the Hoopoe bird, known for its surging ight, Nishita and Priyashri’s journey, too, has been one of ups and downs, but contentment has kept them aoat. Although the duo moved to Kodaikanal, they still remain connected with the city. Work constantly brings us to the city. But we love our home here,” they say in unison.

- https://www.deccanherald.com/sunday-herald/sunday-herald-melange/in-a-colony-of-their-own-733084.html, May 13, 2019

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How heritage lakes of Delhi are vanishing

Delhi Jal Board (DJB) is supplying 900 MGD (million gallons a day) of water - mostly from canals carrying river waters and partially from ranney wells and tubewells. Yet, there is a massive shortage of 300 MGD that triggers clashes and allows the water mafia to thrive in the dog days of summer. In such a situation, conservation of natural lakes and ponds that are not only a source of water but also hold rainwater and aid in groundwater recharge is the least Delhi could have done. But the heritage water bodies of Delhi are being lost to brazen illegal concretisation, garbage dumping and sewage disposal, a Mail Today ground report has revealed. A total of 611 water bodies like lakes, ponds, wells and traditional rainwater storages were supposed to be under the jurisdiction of agencies such as DJB, Delhi Development Authority (DDA), forest department, municipal corporations and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

But 274 have dried up and 190 have been lost forever, official data accessed by Mail Today reveals. In December, DJB passed a budget of Rs 453 crore to rejuvenate 159 dying lakes, starting with 10 in four months. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who heads DJB, then said "Delhi will become a city of lakes. They will reduce pollution, recharge groundwater and make our city beautiful. All these lakes will be developed into tourist places with beautiful landscapes." But nothing much has changed since then, as illustrated by the five case studies below.

HAUZ KHAS LAKE (SOUTH DELHI)
The 47-acre Hauz Khas Lake, dug up in the 14th century to serve as a tank during Alauddin Khilji's rule, has been dying a slow death. The presence of the tomb of Feroz Shah in the vicinity adds to the historical significance. But the source of water in the lake is sewage from Munirka, RK Puram, Hauz Khas, Mehrauli and Vasant Kunj.

"The lake looks dirty and stinks," said Green Park resident Sarojini Sinha. DDA officials said they have hired a contractor to minimise the smell through chemical sprinkling. Manu Bhatnagar of conservation body INTACH said the water quality is improving through treatment.

NAJAFGARH LAKE (SOUTHWEST DELHI)
It was only in February 2017 that Delhi and Haryana acknowledged the existence of this lake. But even now there are hardly any efforts to restore to curb encroachments. Spread over 225 sqkm at the end of the 19th century, this lake has shrunk due to the construction of a drain and the destruction of the upstream Sahibi Nadi channel. "If the lake is revived, it will be major source of water and a biodiversity resource," said environmentalist Manoj Misra.

Sahibi is a tributary of the Yamuna. The river is now colloquially called Najafgarh drain because of the untreated sewage that is dumped into its waters. The state government had, in December, rolled out a proposal for its restoration. But it is yet to see the light of the day. Once revived, it would help in recharging the depleting water table in Gurugram.

SANJAY VAN LAKE (SOUTH DELHI)
Spread across 6 km, this lake is also being flooded with sewage coming from Mehrauli and Vasant Kunj. "We need to clean up the sewage it's a threat to groundwater," said Sunil Kumar, a gardener at Sanjay Van. Efforts to conserve the lake started in 2010 when DDA hired Air Vice Marshal (retd) Vinod Rawat, a botanist, and his team.

The idea was to eventually convert it into a bird sanctuary. The project was, however, stalled in 2018 after Rawat passed away. DDA officials said that they have developed a check-dam and artificial water falls to attract visitors but the smell has been a spoiler even for domestic and migratory birds.

HAUZ-I-SHAMSI (SOUTH DELHI)
Once spread over 100 hectares in the middle of Mehrauli market, Hauz-i-Shamsi, popularly known as Shamsi Talab, is today full of sewage. Not only has the 750-year-old water body shrunk, but its catchment area has also seen construction. The pond was built by Sultan Shams-Ud-Din-Iltutmish in 1230. It assumes significance because it stands next to Lodhiera built Jahaz Mahal which hosts the annual "Phool Walon Ki Sair" festival attended by many including CM Kejriwal. Acting on court orders, the talab was cleaned many times in the past. But since sewage finds its way into it, the problem returns after a few years. The pond is currently under the supervision of ASI which says it has cleared 30,000 square meter of vegetation.

"We have deployed a guard to prevent local residents from dumping garbage into it. Awareness among local residents to preserve ancient monuments is the key here and we have contacted RWA officials to play a role of watchdog," an official of ASI said.

TIKRI KHURD LAKE, NARELA
Misra has written a letter to CM Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal with a plea to save the lake. Spread over 10 hectares, the lake is a prominent water body in the area. "It is with great regret that we draw your attention to the comparative Google earth images (2014 and 2018) of the lake, which clearly show how a systematic encroachment over it is underway by first creation of a wall and later raising of structures," the letter said. "Locals have encroached its land since 2014, thus squeezing its size and shape," Misra told Mail Today.

The lake, experts said, can be spotted in the 1911 Survey of India Map and in the National Wetland Atlas of 2010. The Supreme Court had in February 2017 directed all wetlands noted in the atlas to be protected. Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) directed the wetlands authority of Delhi to hold a meeting and decide within a month whether the Tikri Khurd Lake is a wetland.

- https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/how-heritage-lakes-of-delhi-are-vanishing-1523443-2019-05-13, May 13, 2019

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Water tunnel unearthed at iconic Chhattar Manzil

After a wooden boat was excavated at Chhattar Manzil earlier in the week, a waterways tunnel. This is the third such tunnel to be dug up at the site after similar ones were discovered in November-December and JanuaryFebruary. Members of the state archaeology department, faculty of architecture and private conservationists are working on the restoration of the 19th century building. “The tunnel, it seems, was not used for commute, but as a freshwater source to Chhattar Manzil.

Given the symmetry of the entire building, we are hopeful there will be a fourth tunnel beneath this,” he added. The three tunnels discovered until now were found at varying levels of depth in the building, with the latest being at 19 feet into the ground. On Saturday, a team of the National Research Laboratory For Conservation Of Cultural Property, a Union government body under the ministry of culture, also visited Chhattar Manzil. The body collected samples of the wooden boat for its chemical conservation and set guidelines for its protection and preservation. The 50-foot-long and 12-foot-wide wooden boat was excavated from a depth of 19 feet on Wednesday. This suggested it was used in the Nawabi era for commute. The national conservation team has asked authorities to document the boat both photographically and architecturally by drawings.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/water-tunnel-unearthed-at-iconic-chhattar-manzil/articleshow/69287498.cms, May 13, 2019

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How heritage lakes of Delhi are vanishing

After a wooden boat was excavated at Chhattar Manzil earlier in the week, a waterways tunnel. This is the third such tunnel to be dug up at the site after similar ones were discovered in November-December and JanuaryFebruary. Members of the state archaeology department, faculty of architecture and private conservationists are working on the restoration of the 19th century building.

“The tunnel, it seems, was not used for commute, but as a freshwater source to Chhattar Manzil. Given the symmetry of the entire building, we are hopeful there will be a fourth tunnel beneath this,” he added. The three tunnels discovered until now were found at varying levels of depth in the building, with the latest being at 19 feet into the ground.

On Saturday, a team of the National Research Laboratory For Conservation Of Cultural Property, a Union government body under the ministry of culture, also visited Chhattar Manzil. The body collected samples of the wooden boat for its chemical conservation and set guidelines for its protection and preservation. The 50-foot-long and 12-foot-wide wooden boat was excavated from a depth of 19 feet on Wednesday. This suggested it was used in the Nawabi era for commute. The national conservation team has asked authorities to document the boat both photographically and architecturally by drawings.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/lucknow/water-tunnel-unearthed-at-iconic-chhattar-manzil/articleshow/69287498.cms, May 13, 2019

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Ancient rock art in the plains of India

Archaeologists work at an excavation site in a cave near the town of Kankavali in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, India, April 14, 2019. Two amateur archaeologists have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai. Researchers have discovered Stone Age rock carvings—which could be between 10,000 to 40,000 years old—on a stony hilltop south of Mumbai.

Some of the images appear to relate to a life of hunting and gathering—deer, fish, turtles. Others depict animals of great power, like tigers and elephants. Their style is realistic for the animals and more stylised for humans. By James Gorman and Atul Loke.

In the evening breeze on a stony hilltop a day’s drive south of Mumbai, Sudhir Risbud tramped from one rock carving to another, pointing out the hull of a boat, birds, a shark, human figures and two life-size tigers. “They’re male,” he said with a smile, noting that the carver had taken pains to make the genitalia too obvious to ignore. He was doing a brief tour of about two dozen figures, a sampling of 100 or so all etched into a hard, pitted rock called laterite that is common on the coastal plain that borders the Arabian Sea. The carvings are only a sample of 1,200 figures that Risbud and Dhananjay Marathe, engineers and dedicated naturalists, have uncovered since they set out on a quest in 2012.

The two men are part of a long tradition of amateur archaeologists, according to Tejas Garge, the head of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums for the state of Maharashtra, and the petroglyphs they have uncovered amount to a trove of international significance. They are the most recent collection of rock art to join other images left by Stone Age peoples around the globe. Like paintings and carvings in Australia, the US Southwest, Africa and elsewhere, the carvings are cryptic messages left by people whose lives are lost in the mists of deep time.

Garge estimates the oldest of the ground carvings are 10,000 to 40,000 years old, but dating such images is imprecise, particularly since rigorous study of the whole collection is just beginning. A petroglyph in the village of Devache Gothane in Ratnagiri, India, at a site where compasses read incorrectly, April 15, 2019. The cause is as yet unknown. Two amateur archaeologists have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai.

Some of the images appear to relate to a life of hunting and gathering—deer, fish, turtles. Others depict animals of great power, like tigers and elephants. And there are humans, probably fertility figures, images of a mother goddess like those found elsewhere in India and around the world. The fertility images are usually accompanied by abstract designs, and some of the carvings are all abstract. Even now, they can stir the emotions and the imagination the way they must have ages ago.

Some are worn, others still vivid, especially where they have been sprinkled with sand to fill the deep grooves. Garge said the state had earmarked about $3 million for preservation of the drawings and for research to narrow their age and try to learn about the people who made them. Unlike most other Stone Age rock carvings around the world, these images are not drawn on walls or standing rocks, but cut into the exposed stone of flat hilltops along what is called the Konkan coastal plateau. Their style is realistic for the animals, and more stylised for humans.

Most of the animals, including elephants, are life-size and one site with multiple carvings is the largest in South Asia, Garge said. He believes it should be a national monument. Sudhir Risbud examines a petroglyph in Ratnagiri, India, April 15, 2019. Two amateur archaeologists, including Risbud, have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai.

The discovery so far has not received a great deal of academic attention, but Jean Clottes, an expert on cave art and the editor of the International Newsletter on Rock Art, said in an email that the collection of images “is an important discovery, no doubt.” He said well-preserved carvings on the ground have been found elsewhere, but are unusual. Meenakshi Dubey-Pathak, a freelance researcher and artist who has published extensively on Indian rock art said the carvings share imagery with other Indian rock art and rock art worldwide. “These were hunter gatherers,” she said and the carvings were not art for art’s sake. “They had meaning and purpose,” she said. Indian tourists have been visiting the sites, since published reports of the epic journey of discovery by Risbud and Marathe first appeared last fall.

But the sites are not easy to locate. You can find images on the tourism website for Ratnagiri, but there are no directions to or GPS locations for the various sites. To find the carvings, a tourist needs to ask local town and village residents; Garge, Risbud and Marathe would like to keep it that way. Most of the carvings are on private land, and it would be costly to buy all the sites to preserve them. Garge hopes to make the sites a source of income to local residents. He described an encounter with a tea seller who had a small stall at a crossroads near one of the sites.

The state had considered putting up signs with directions, Garge said, but the tea seller asked him not to do so. Dhananjay Marathe along the edges of ancient abstract designs carved into laterite rock in Ratnagiri, India, April 15, 2019. Two amateur archaeologists, including Marathe, have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai.

People stop, they have at least a cup of tea and they ask directions, the tea seller told him. And his income has climbed as word of the carvings has gotten out. Now, Garge’s department is working on pilot projects for 15 sites to provide a comfortable viewing area with an elevated platform, a concession stand and a way for a village to sell tickets. Some of the carvings were known to locals before Risbud and Marathe began their investigation. And researchers had done a study on one site in 1980. Amateur historians and some academics had written a bit about the few that had been identified. But it was only after the two engineers began to explore systematically and recruit other searchers, that the number and richness of the carvings became clear. Indian newspapers and the BBC reported on the extent of their finds last year.

The two friends are both avid naturalists. Marathe has published a guide to birds of the Konkan plateau. They met while participating in a bird survey. Both had recollections of seeing the drawings when they were younger and a general interest in everything about the Konkan plateau. So the search began. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, Marathe said. For the first two years, he said, “we had no luck.” But then one day they encountered an old shepherd who told them about a newly discovered carving. They began to seek out herders who bring cattle or sheep onto the plateaus after the monsoon season when the sparse vegetation of the hot months gives way to a burst of lush grass and flowers.

The herders and their families pointed them to other sites, often adding mythological stories of how the carvings came to be. For instance, Marathe pointed to one depression in the rock that could be taken to be an impression left by someone lying down. According to villagers the impression was left by Sita, Lord Rama’s wife, who was stolen away by the demon king Ravana in the epic poem the Ramayana. This was where Ravana, while on the run, lay with Sita.

From December 2012 until now, Marathe, Risbud and other friends have not only sought out new carvings, they have pursued government support at all levels for the recognition and preservation of the carvings. “They have tremendous passion,” Garge said. “They could extract this information from locals and they could find all this, so we are really grateful.”

Garge, whose specialty is historical archaeology, met the men after coming to Maharashtra in 2017. He visited some of the sites and appointed a member of his staff, Rhutvij Apte, to oversee research. Dating rock carvings is not easy, but there are clues, Garge said. One is that once agriculture appears, people carve images of bulls. There are no such images in the drawings from Maharashtra, he said, which feature every variety of wild animal, suggesting that these carvings were made by people who hunted and foraged for wild plants. If the carvings were made before the development of agriculture, that would date them to at least 10,000 years ago. Another clue is that the carvings include images of rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses. That suggests that the drawings date even farther back, to 20,000 or 30,000 years ago, because fossil evidence indicates that’s when those animals lived in this region.

The realistic details in drawings, like the shape and placement of horns suggest personal knowledge of the animals, not creation from hearsay. Finally, there are stone tools. When Apte started coordinating research he found microliths, small stone tools, characteristic of the Mesolithic period, which stretches as far back as 40,000 years ago. Without definitive dates, Garge puts the range at 10,000 to 40,000 years. The next steps in research, he said, are to document each figure with drone photography, photographic mapping, and, if the budget permits, three-dimensional laser scans, so that if the carvings were lost to erosion or construction or mining of the laterite stone for brick, they could be recreated not only in outline, but in-depth, which can give an indication of carving technique.

Garge’s department will also be looking for evidence of the people who made the carvings. The figures are found only on windswept hills that are flooded during monsoons, places where there would have been no shelter. The carvers would have had to come to these places on purpose to make the drawings. This year researchers began excavating a cave about 20 miles away and found microliths like those on the hilltops, as well as other, larger stone tools. “We are hoping to find more shelter sites in closer proximity to the petroglyphs,” Garge said. For now, the carvings are mysterious and pose interesting questions about the people who lived during that time period. “Do you think society was advanced enough that they would pay for artistic work” in the form of food sharing, for example, Garge wondered, or were they freeing a group member from hunting or gathering to sit and dig into stone? And he noted that worldwide, rock carvings come from a time when humans were beginning to grapple with the meaning of the forces that affected their lives, perhaps when the first religious ideas were forming.

Many of the animals featured in the drawings could have been objects of fear, he said, “elephants, rhinos, sting ray, shark,” not to mention tigers. It would make sense, he said, if these potentially dangerous creatures were invested with some spiritual power. “You always worship malevolent gods first,” he said.

- https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/culture/ancient-rock-art-plains-india, May 13, 2019

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Konkan cave holds clues to prehistoric artists

Archaeologists work at an excavation site in a cave near the town of Kankavali in the Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra, India, April 14, 2019. Two amateur archaeologists have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai. Researchers have discovered Stone Age rock carvings—which could be between 10,000 to 40,000 years old—on a stony hilltop south of Mumbai. Some of the images appear to relate to a life of hunting and gathering—deer, fish, turtles. Others depict animals of great power, like tigers and elephants. Their style is realistic for the animals and more stylised for humans. By James Gorman and Atul Loke.

In the evening breeze on a stony hilltop a day’s drive south of Mumbai, Sudhir Risbud tramped from one rock carving to another, pointing out the hull of a boat, birds, a shark, human figures and two life-size tigers. “They’re male,” he said with a smile, noting that the carver had taken pains to make the genitalia too obvious to ignore. He was doing a brief tour of about two dozen figures, a sampling of 100 or so all etched into a hard, pitted rock called laterite that is common on the coastal plain that borders the Arabian Sea. The carvings are only a sample of 1,200 figures that Risbud and Dhananjay Marathe, engineers and dedicated naturalists, have uncovered since they set out on a quest in 2012. The two men are part of a long tradition of amateur archaeologists, according to Tejas Garge, the head of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums for the state of Maharashtra, and the petroglyphs they have uncovered amount to a trove of international significance. They are the most recent collection of rock art to join other images left by Stone Age peoples around the globe. Like paintings and carvings in Australia, the US Southwest, Africa and elsewhere, the carvings are cryptic messages left by people whose lives are lost in the mists of deep time.

Garge estimates the oldest of the ground carvings are 10,000 to 40,000 years old, but dating such images is imprecise, particularly since rigorous study of the whole collection is just beginning. A petroglyph in the village of Devache Gothane in Ratnagiri, India, at a site where compasses read incorrectly, April 15, 2019. The cause is as yet unknown. Two amateur archaeologists have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai. Some of the images appear to relate to a life of hunting and gathering—deer, fish, turtles. Others depict animals of great power, like tigers and elephants. And there are humans, probably fertility figures, images of a mother goddess like those found elsewhere in India and around the world. The fertility images are usually accompanied by abstract designs, and some of the carvings are all abstract. Even now, they can stir the emotions and the imagination the way they must have ages ago.

Some are worn, others still vivid, especially where they have been sprinkled with sand to fill the deep grooves. Garge said the state had earmarked about $3 million for preservation of the drawings and for research to narrow their age and try to learn about the people who made them. Unlike most other Stone Age rock carvings around the world, these images are not drawn on walls or standing rocks, but cut into the exposed stone of flat hilltops along what is called the Konkan coastal plateau. Their style is realistic for the animals, and more stylised for humans. Most of the animals, including elephants, are life-size and one site with multiple carvings is the largest in South Asia, Garge said. He believes it should be a national monument. Sudhir Risbud examines a petroglyph in Ratnagiri, India, April 15, 2019. Two amateur archaeologists, including Risbud, have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai.

The discovery so far has not received a great deal of academic attention, but Jean Clottes, an expert on cave art and the editor of the International Newsletter on Rock Art, said in an email that the collection of images “is an important discovery, no doubt.” He said well-preserved carvings on the ground have been found elsewhere, but are unusual. Meenakshi Dubey-Pathak, a freelance researcher and artist who has published extensively on Indian rock art said the carvings share imagery with other Indian rock art and rock art worldwide. “These were hunter gatherers,” she said and the carvings were not art for art’s sake. “They had meaning and purpose,” she said. Indian tourists have been visiting the sites, since published reports of the epic journey of discovery by Risbud and Marathe first appeared last fall. But the sites are not easy to locate. You can find images on the tourism website for Ratnagiri, but there are no directions to or GPS locations for the various sites. To find the carvings, a tourist needs to ask local town and village residents; Garge, Risbud and Marathe would like to keep it that way. Most of the carvings are on private land, and it would be costly to buy all the sites to preserve them. Garge hopes to make the sites a source of income to local residents. He described an encounter with a tea seller who had a small stall at a crossroads near one of the sites. The state had considered putting up signs with directions, Garge said, but the tea seller asked him not to do so. Dhananjay Marathe along the edges of ancient abstract designs carved into laterite rock in Ratnagiri, India, April 15, 2019. Two amateur archaeologists, including Marathe, have uncovered a collection of mysterious rock carvings on the Indian coastal plain south of Mumbai.

People stop, they have at least a cup of tea and they ask directions, the tea seller told him. And his income has climbed as word of the carvings has gotten out. Now, Garge’s department is working on pilot projects for 15 sites to provide a comfortable viewing area with an elevated platform, a concession stand and a way for a village to sell tickets. Some of the carvings were known to locals before Risbud and Marathe began their investigation. And researchers had done a study on one site in 1980. Amateur historians and some academics had written a bit about the few that had been identified. But it was only after the two engineers began to explore systematically and recruit other searchers, that the number and richness of the carvings became clear. Indian newspapers and the BBC reported on the extent of their finds last year. The two friends are both avid naturalists. Marathe has published a guide to birds of the Konkan plateau. They met while participating in a bird survey. Both had recollections of seeing the drawings when they were younger and a general interest in everything about the Konkan plateau. So the search began. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, Marathe said. For the first two years, he said, “we had no luck.” But then one day they encountered an old shepherd who told them about a newly discovered carving. They began to seek out herders who bring cattle or sheep onto the plateaus after the monsoon season when the sparse vegetation of the hot months gives way to a burst of lush grass and flowers. The herders and their families pointed them to other sites, often adding mythological stories of how the carvings came to be. For instance, Marathe pointed to one depression in the rock that could be taken to be an impression left by someone lying down. According to villagers the impression was left by Sita, Lord Rama’s wife, who was stolen away by the demon king Ravana in the epic poem the Ramayana. This was where Ravana, while on the run, lay with Sita. From December 2012 until now, Marathe, Risbud and other friends have not only sought out new carvings, they have pursued government support at all levels for the recognition and preservation of the carvings. “They have tremendous passion,” Garge said. “They could extract this information from locals and they could find all this, so we are really grateful.” Garge, whose specialty is historical archaeology, met the men after coming to Maharashtra in 2017. He visited some of the sites and appointed a member of his staff, Rhutvij Apte, to oversee research. Dating rock carvings is not easy, but there are clues, Garge said. One is that once agriculture appears, people carve images of bulls. There are no such images in the drawings from Maharashtra, he said, which feature every variety of wild animal, suggesting that these carvings were made by people who hunted and foraged for wild plants. If the carvings were made before the development of agriculture, that would date them to at least 10,000 years ago. Another clue is that the carvings include images of rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses.

That suggests that the drawings date even farther back, to 20,000 or 30,000 years ago, because fossil evidence indicates that’s when those animals lived in this region. The realistic details in drawings, like the shape and placement of horns suggest personal knowledge of the animals, not creation from hearsay. Finally, there are stone tools. When Apte started coordinating research he found microliths, small stone tools, characteristic of the Mesolithic period, which stretches as far back as 40,000 years ago. Without definitive dates, Garge puts the range at 10,000 to 40,000 years.

The next steps in research, he said, are to document each figure with drone photography, photographic mapping, and, if the budget permits, three-dimensional laser scans, so that if the carvings were lost to erosion or construction or mining of the laterite stone for brick, they could be recreated not only in outline, but in-depth, which can give an indication of carving technique. Garge’s department will also be looking for evidence of the people who made the carvings. The figures are found only on windswept hills that are flooded during monsoons, places where there would have been no shelter. The carvers would have had to come to these places on purpose to make the drawings. This year researchers began excavating a cave about 20 miles away and found microliths like those on the hilltops, as well as other, larger stone tools. “We are hoping to find more shelter sites in closer proximity to the petroglyphs,” Garge said. For now, the carvings are mysterious and pose interesting questions about the people who lived during that time period. “Do you think society was advanced enough that they would pay for artistic work” in the form of food sharing, for example, Garge wondered, or were they freeing a group member from hunting or gathering to sit and dig into stone? And he noted that worldwide, rock carvings come from a time when humans were beginning to grapple with the meaning of the forces that affected their lives, perhaps when the first religious ideas were forming. Many of the animals featured in the drawings could have been objects of fear, he said, “elephants, rhinos, sting ray, shark,” not to mention tigers. It would make sense, he said, if these potentially dangerous creatures were invested with some spiritual power. “You always worship malevolent gods first,” he said.

- https://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-konkan-cave-holds-clues-to-prehistoric-artists-2748734, May 13, 2019

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Krishnadevaraya inscription found in state of neglect

An inscription of emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara empire dated 1518 AD was found in a pathetic condition at Tadigadapa village on the outskirts of Vijayawada. Based on the information given by the villagers Subhakar Medasani, Krishna Prasad Medasani and Charitier Saagi Krishnamraju, Dr E Sivanagireddy, archaeologist-cum-epigraphist and CEO, Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati on Sunday rushed to the spot and unearthed the inscription slab with the help of local community members.

Dr Reddy, after careful examination of the script, said the inscription was issued by Rayasam Kondamarusayya, military general of Kondapalli kingdom as subordinate to Sri Krishna Devaraya, who seized Kondapalli Fort from Gajapatis of Odisha in 1516 AD. The inscription mentions the digging of a well by Kondamarusayya for her mother Sangoyamma for providing drinking water facility in the village. The slab was found upside down on the roadside which once was fixed to the wall of Venugopala swamy temple.

The inscription was cleaned with soap water and the Telugu script was deciphered in two sides of the slab by Dr Siva Nagireddy. The slab was left uncared for heavy traffic of sand lorries. In view of the historical and archaeological importance, Reddy appealed to the Department of Archaeology and Museums to protect and preserve it for posterity.

- https://www.thehansindia.com/andhra-pradesh/krishnadevaraya-inscription-found-in-state-of-neglect-528957, May 13, 2019

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City’s heritage to be documented from June

For the first time in the Andhra Pradesh region, a documentation and listing of heritage and historical structures of Visakhapatnam district is being taken up by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach ) with support from departments such as the Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation, Indian Railways, archaeology department, besides architecture students of Gitam Institute. The work is supposed to commence from mid-June of this year.

Architects from Intach have also been sent to Delhi for training in research, tracing heritage structures and documenting their detailed history. Experts point out that in the course of documentation, hitherto unknown and abandoned historic structures might be discovered. Intach convener (Visakhapatnam chapter), Mayank Kumari Deo, informed, “Apart from the known heritage structures of Old Town and ancient Buddhist sites in the district, there are several other temples, mosques, churches, private and public buildings that have heritage or historical values. However, due to lack of knowledge about their importance and in the absence of documentation, such structures are never taken into account.”

She added, “Trained conservation experts and architecture students will list and document such structure and include details such as measurement, materials used and architectural style adopted, strength of the building, chances of restoration, era of construction, purpose of the building or how it was used then and now. “It is also important that after restoration, we have to see the viability of income generation from the buildings so that money for maintenance and future restoration and repair works can be carried out in a self-sustaining mode.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/visakhapatnam/citys-heritage-to-be-documented-from-june/articleshow/69331654.cms, May 14, 2019

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200-year-old mysterious gondola unearthed in Lucknow's Chhatar Manzil

As new findings continue to tumble out during excavations, we can look forward to a new historical narrative of a society and its cultural patterns that deserve to be documented, shared and told. From Sanauli to Lucknow, history’s mysterious secrets are tumbling out! A recent excavation has now shown up that Lucknow has a ‘mystery’ boat. A royal boat may have been discovered at Lucknow’s 220-year-old Chhatar Manzil.

The discovery of a traditional, flat-bottomed boat, which is 42 feet long and 11 feet wide, has been brought to light by the officials of Uttar Pradesh’s state archaeological department, also referred to as UPSAD. While the officials have not confirmed whether this is a royal boat, it is baffling how the ‘mystery’ boat got buried in the ground in the first place. More details are awaited on the same. Interestingly, this marks the third major discovery since 2017, when excavation first began at the Chhatar Manzil as part of its restoration and conservation. Then, for the first time, a room had been discovered, lying buried beneath the palace complex. Not just that, an entire storey was also discovered lying buried, as were huge tunnel-shaped rooms connecting Kothi Farhatbaksh to the Chhatar Manzil, which had served as a palace for Awadh’s rulers and later became a bastion of Indian revolutionaries during the 1857 revolt. Kothi Farhatbaksh is known to have been built by Major General Claude Martin way back in 1781.

This structure too underwent extensive trenching at the same time as the Chhatar Manzil. Earlier on May 2, the Archeology Survey of India had found a chariot, a helmet, a shield and a dagger from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, where two decorated coffins with skeletons were found. ANI has quoted Dr. S.K. Manjul, Director of Institute of Archaeology as saying that the items that were found in Sanauli is not only of national importance but it also has global importance as it throws light on the history, life, and culture in the upper Ganga Yamuna Doab. According to one report, the coffins had copper layering all around. A chariot was also discovered, besides other items such as helmet, sword and dagger, shield and so on. Another report in Daily Pioneer points out that these items indicate the existence of a warrior class dating back to 2000 BCE. The Sanauli coffin mystery also deepens with the fact that one coffin with stone inlays had a woman’s skeleton with gold beads, an amulet made of semi-precious stones, armlet, pottery, and the second platform had her remains that included items like a copper mirror and hairpin. Two pots containing rice and black lentils were also found. A good practice would be to look beyond India in the field of archaeology to understand whether discoveries that may be similar to Lucknow’s royal boat or Sanauli’s copper-coated coffins are happening across the world.

Some notable findings reported in Archaeological News magazine show that a bronze age canoe has been discovered in Wales and the remains of a 1400-year-old river settlement along river Senne has been discovered at a construction site in Brussels. These new findings have all the makings of mysteries tumbling out until one also probes closer to understand how these have been completely missed out earlier. For context, consider an interesting quote by George Hancock, which refers to archaeology as a deeply conservative discipline in ‘Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization’ in the following words: “Archaeologists have a horror of questioning anything their predecessors and peers announced to be true…in consequence, they focus, perhaps to a large extent, subconsciously on evidence and arguments that don’t upset the apple cart….but God forbid anything should be discovered that seriously undermine the established paradigm.”

The questions related to the mystery boat discovered in Lucknow are bound to continue. As new findings continue to tumble out during excavations, we can look forward to a new historical narrative of a society and its cultural patterns that deserve to be documented, shared and told.

- https://www.financialexpress.com/lifestyle/travel-tourism/200-year-old-mysterious-gondola-unearthed-in-lucknows-chhatar-manzil/1578927/, May 15, 2019

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MoU signed between NMCG, HCL Foundation and INTACH for Rudraksh Plantation in Uttarakhand

As an initiative towards a greener ecosystem in Ganga Basin, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), HCL Foundation and INTACH for taking up a project of 'Plantation of Rudraksh Trees in Uttarakhand' under the 'Namami Gange' Programme. While the project aims at planting 10,000 Rudraksh trees in the catchment area of river Ganga in Uttarakhand in association with the local community and other stakeholders, it will also help in generating income for people residing in those areas.

While signing the MoU on Tuesday, NMCG Director General Rajiv Ranjan Mishra said, "The Namami Gange Mission aims at providing comprehensive and sustainable solutions for a cleaner ecosystem along the stretch of 97 towns and 4,465 villages on the Ganga stem. The afforestation drive and the Clean Ganga Mission will go hand in hand."

"While the government of India is spearheading the project, a public-private partnership provides the initiative with a much-needed impetus," he further said. The tripartite MoU was signed in the presence of NMCG Director General Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Executive Director (Projects) G. Ashok Kumar and other officials from HCL Foundation, INTACH and NMCG.

- https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/mou-signed-between-nmcg-hcl-foundation-and-intach-for-rudraksh-plantation-in-uttarakhand-119051500576_1.html, May 15, 2019

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INTACH organises ‘Paani Ki Kahani’

Indian National trust and Cultural Heritage Jammu Chapter (INTACH) organised a painting and write up programme on the topic ‘Paani Ki Kahani’ at Bhartiya Vidya Mandir High School Udhampur. On this occasion Sudhir Singh Life Member INTACH was the Chief Guest while Rajesh Kumar Teacher Govt. Middle School Sajalta, Radhika Sharma (Principal Bhartiya Vidya Mandir Thathi, Anju Teacher BVM Thathi, Daleep Ji, Amit Ji were the other guests. Renu Sharma, Principal Bharatiya Vidya Mandir High School Udhampur Presided over the programme. About students from classes 5th to 10th from five schools of Udhampur District participated in the programme which was on the topic “Paani Ki Kahani”. The schools who participated were Bhartiya Vidya Mandir High School Udhampur, Govt. Middle School Sajalta, Govt. Girls High School Udhampur , Bhartiya Vidya Mandir Thathi etc.

- http://news.statetimes.in/intach-organises-paani-ki-kahani/, May 16, 2019

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Bengal Tigers May Go Extinct By 2070 As Their Last Habitat Risks Getting Submerged In Water: Study

“… 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within [a few] decades, more than ever before in human history…”, says Global Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published on May 6th, 2019. According to the report, and a recent study published in the journal “Science of The Total Environment”, Bengal tiger is at the verge of getting extinct. This would happen primarily because of a dramatic habitat loss owing to the combined effects of climate change and the rise in sea-level. Sundarbans is their last habitat. According to IPBES’s Chairman’s statement, “The loss of species, ecosystems and genetic diversity is already a global and generational threat to human wellbeing. Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come. Policies, efforts and actions – at every level – will only succeed, however, when based on the best knowledge and evidence. This is what the IPBES Global Assessment Provides”. The report reveals the severity of the loss of nature and natural resources and its consequences for humanity.

Sunderbans & Royal Bengal Tiger

Their only major habitat of Bengal Tiger is the Sundarbans. The Sundarbans is the largest single block of mangrove forest ecosystem and a UNESCO world heritage site. It covers parts of India and Bangladesh, spanning an area of over 60,000 km2. It is home to one of the richest gene pools for flora and fauna in the world. According to the report, “This mangrove is a habitat for a large number of species of mammals (42), birds (300), reptiles (35), and amphibian (8) including the largest population of the Bengal Tiger (Hoq, 2007)… [but] Not only the biodiversity but also the very existence of the forest is under threat due to the climate change and associated sea level rise (Ahmad et al., 2010; Rahaa et al., 2014). Moreover, Sundarbans in Bangladesh is also facing serious problem due to the lack of freshwater supply from some transboundary rivers (Islam & Gnauck, 2009).” This suggests a rapid decline in the population of the Bengal Tiger population. According to the study, the adverse and pronounced impacts of climate change will wipe out the Sundarbans by 2070 resulting in a complete loss of habitat for the remaining few hundred tigers. The tiger population has been on a steady decline since the early 20th Century, with a reduction in the number of tigers from more than 100,000 in the 1910s to less than 3,500 in 2010, as reported in this study. This has been primarily due to hunting and poaching, but also in parts due to the loss of habitable ecosystems due to deforestation. The conservation efforts which saw a rapid increase since the early 1970s helped in bringing the reduction in check but has failed to stop it or reverse its direction. Now, with the added threat of climate change, the Tiger population may go extinct sooner than expected. As reported by The New York Times, it is not just the loss of habitat that would impact the tiger population but also other impacts of climate change such as the warming of the atmosphere, extreme weather conditions such as cyclones, clashes with human population as the tigers stray in search of new land and so on. Quoting Prerna Singh Bindra, the author of “The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis”, the report concludes with a pressing question: “Where do you put these tigers? Where is a suitable undisturbed habitat on this crowded planet?”

- https://thelogicalindian.com/awareness/bengal-tiger-extinct/, May 16, 2019

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THE WORLD'S FIRST MUSEUM DEDICATED TO A COLOR

By Joanna Lobo

It’s an all-white house, skirted by a long balcony, with stately pillars holding up high ceilings and passages connected to outer rooms. All around are shades of blue — indigo rather. In one balcony, a flock of stiff cotton birds takes flight. In another stands an indigo-hued god set in gold. Above a staircase, shades of dyed cotton flutter in the wind. On terra firma stand sandstone blocks that look like life-size dollhouses, with carved cubbyholes and staircases, stained with indigo. Throughout, seating areas are upholstered with khadi denim. These exhibits are part of the brand-new Arvind Indigo Museum in Ahmedabad, a first-ever tribute to India’s ancient natural dye, which has found its way globally into everything from medicine to textiles. While colorful and culturally significant, indigo’s journey from humble dye to “blue gold” hasn’t always been a cause for celebration, but its rich existence has found an artful home close to where your favorite Levi’s were conceived. Indigo as a color and pigment has been around for more than 5,000 years. It’s a rarity — the only natural dye to hail from a green plant. The first plantation is believed to have been in the Indus Valley (hence the name) from where it spread across the world. Used in textiles and paintings, for medicinal purposes and art, and considered a luxury item, indigo demand over the centuries outstripped its supply. A synthetic variant was created in 1882, which was easier to produce and much cheaper, making it more popular — especially in denim. In 1987, textile company Arvind Limited (of Lalbhai Group), produced the first meter of denim in India. Today, they claim to be its largest manufacturer in the world. The jeans you’re wearing? The denim is probably from Ahmedabad. The Arvind Indigo Museum, which opened in January in the ancestral home of the Lalbhai family (today the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Museum complex), honors the dye that made the family’s denim journey possible. “We’ve always been influenced by this simple dye,” says managing director, Sanjay S. Lalbhai. “The best way of paying our homage to it is by extending its vocabulary and creating a museum.” But instead of offering a colorful history — or business — lesson, the space focuses more on how indigo can be used in other art forms, and in “different media besides textiles,” says the museum’s creative consultant, Vipul Mahadevia. This first exhibition, titled Alchemy, showcases 54 innovative experiments from contemporary artists and artisans who were given 14 natural indigo “recipes” to experiment with. The result: an “indigo universe” spread across the garden, backyard and in six gallery spaces, that highlights the dye’s application in different media: Think leather, sandstone, acrylic, steel, bronze, plaster of Paris, paper and aluminum. Kavin Mehta’s sandstone sculptures, injected with indigo, show how the color deepens (not lightens) over time. The most captivating and camera-friendly piece: an installation of three rows of jeans, set up against a window. One of the museum’s visions it to “revive the dying crafts in India,” says Lalbhai. Here visitors will find examples of traditional Rogan art (painted with a fine wooden stick) and zardozi (indigo-dyed pashmina). The most stunning piece: Mata Ni Pachedi, by Kirit Chitara, a piece that showcases the different forms of a goddess and took eight months of dyeing and washing to create. Lithuanian artist Victoria Andrejeva’s The Nest — popular with children visitors — is an enclosed space made using waste material (cotton bales, iron strips and sacks) from the manufacturing site. Mahadevia sometimes leads tours around the museum, dressed, of course, in denim jeans, jacket and a cap. His 30-year love for indigo is even tattooed on his arm: the dye’s chemical formula. He also has some works on display and contributed to an exhibit showing how indigo reacts to different substances like salt, vinegar, sulfuric acid, sugar, fructose and turmeric. What you’ll find here — which is more art gallery than museum and the only one dedicated to a color — is an exploration of the uses of indigo dye, beyond the obvious. But there is a darker side to indigo’s history. British plantation owners forced Indian farmers to grow only indigo, causing poverty and hardship, and the eventual Indigo Rebellion of Bengal (1859-60). Nalini Malani’s The Teller of Tales touches on this past in an indigo-on-acrylic piece juxtaposed with a quote from Hannah Arendt (German philosopher) and a philosophical note from Wislawa Szymborska (Polish poet). At the end of the year, the museum will move a short drive east to a larger, dedicated space at the Arvind company’s headquarters on Naroda Road. It will also be home to a residency, elevating artists and art forms (mainly Indian, but a few from abroad) working with indigo. But Lalbhai is looking to expand the dye’s versatility even further. Such as? Think food-grade indigo ink pasta, he says, served on an indigo-dyed ceramic plate with dyed blue steel cutlery. Given what the museum has commissioned thus far, that’s perhaps not such a blue-sky idea.

GO THERE: ARVIND INDIGO MUSEUM

Location: Kasturbhai Lalbhai Museum Complex in Shahibag, Ahmedabad. Map. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily

Admission fee: Free

Pro tip: In the room dedicated to paper, don’t miss Mumbai-based Nibha Sikander’s intricate 3D paper models of insects cut and pasted together and shown with their “negatives.”

- https://www.ozy.com/good-sht/the-worlds-first-museum-dedicated-to-a-color/93725, May 16, 2019

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Gurugram’s forgotten past

More than 100-year-old monuments such as Badshahpur ‘baoli’, Kamran Sarai need govt attention, proper upkeep. Gurugram city is known for malls, high-rise buildings, condominiums, an envious network of expressways, underpasses, flyovers, automobile and cyber hubs, a private Metro network, global entertainment and shopping hubs and its very own corporate ecology. However, one thing is often amiss in the city's definition is a mention about its history and heritage. Residents only remember that far when automobile major Maruti Suzuki set up a plant in Gurugram or when a realty boom started in early eighties. Hardly anybody remembers or talks about the city’s history and values be it the folklore of it being the abode of Guru Dronacharya during the Mahabharata era, or the land of nawabs of the sultanate or the Mughal era or a colonial cantonment. The state government changed its name from Gurgaon to Gurugram, lending credence to its Mahabharata connection. The earliest gazette records of Gurugram date back to 1910. Gurgaon district, till 1857, formed part of Delhi division of the north-western provinces of the Bengal presidency, according to information in the gazette. The city was known as the abode of the likes of Begum Samru, and nawabs of Pataudi, Badshahpur, and Farrukhnagar who left behind an array of monuments that have been lost to encroachments and official apathy. In the nineteenth century, the British started building their bungalows in Gurgaon, the remnants of which can still be found in present-day Gurugram. Ironically, the city may be just a few kilometres from Delhi (the hub of historical monuments of the country), it has failed to preserve, promote and value its own history and monuments.

Farrukhnagar Fort

The Farrukhnagar Fort known as Dilli Darwaza was established by Faujdar Khan in 1732 during the Mughal rule. Faujdar Khan was the first nawab of Farrukhnagar town, which flourished till the late 19th century and was abandoned during the British Raj in the early 20th century. The fort is one of the few monuments that have managed to stand the test of time and have a hope of revival. Built in an octagonal shape, the key attractions of the fort are Sheesh Mahal, Jama Masjid and the step-well. The Sheesh Mahal, as the name suggests, was a hall of mirror-inlay work which can no longer be seen today owing to massive depletion. However, at one time there were mirrors adorning wooden ceilings and the rear of Diwan-i-Aam. A courtyard with a water channel can be seen in the front of the fort. A memorial to the 1857 rebellion martyrs is built in the courtyard. Dark and dingy steps lead to the three floors of the fort, including the basement. Strategically placed air ducts highlight the architectural skills of the fort constructors. The fort was heading to meet the same fate as other historical buildings but INTACH took its charge and got it renovated in 2009. Now, it can be counted as a tourist destination.

Begum Samru’s palace

Though there is no documented proof, it is traditional knowledge and even the official website of the Haryana Tourism Department identifies the Deputy Commissioner's residence as Samru’s palace. Begum Samru, daughter of a Mughal nobleman, had saved Mughal ruler Shah Alam after which she was awarded the ‘jagir’ of Sardhana. She got married to European mercenary Walter Reinhardt and converted to Christianity and became Begum Sombre. She had a large private army and had employed many European officers on top posts. The ‘jagir’ of Jharsa-Badshahpur (part of modern Gurugram) was acquired by her husband from the French and after his death it passed onto her where she built a cantonment. It is said that apprehensive of Samru’s army, the British placed a battalion and a cantonment in the city. The queen built one of the grandest monuments (her palace) in the city. After ruling Jharsa-Badshahpur for 60 years, she died in 1839 and the palace went to the British, who made it the Deputy Commissioner’s residence.

Kaman Sarai

Dating back to 1825, it was one of the two ‘sarais’ built by the British. Probably, it got its name from R Cavendish, the first British Administrator of Gurgaon. All that remains of this 19th century structure is a grand gate with cusped arches. One of the many souvenirs of Gurugram’s forgotten history, the ‘sarai’ served as a resting place for travellers. The structure now is a dilapidated piece that has been mostly overlooked, and has been heavily encroached upon from all sides. Originally called Cawn Sarai, the local dialect led it to be called Kaman Sarai.

Haveli Mahalwala

Popularly known as Mahalwala, it is the largest ‘haveli’ in Gurugram. The two-storey picturesque ‘haveli’ is adorned with alcoves and arches and is reminiscent of the Mughal and Rajput architectures. Five families live in different portions of the ‘haveli’ on rent that varies from Rs 70 to Rs 500 depending on the space being occupied.

John Hall

FL Bryne, a British ICS officer, was posted as Deputy Commissioner in Gurgaon and his second son, John Goble Bryne, died at an early age. The grand hall was built in his son’s memory. It was later renamed as Agricultural Hall and is being used for holding meetings and functions.

Church of Epiphany

The church celebrated 150 years of its existence in 2017 and is one of the best preserved colonial structures in Gurugram. Tucked in a corner of the quiet Civil Lines, the church has a strong resemblance to parish churches in rural England. According to inscriptions, it was consecrated in 1866 by the Bishop of Calcutta for a handful of British officers then serving in the district.

No documented history

Most of the monuments in Gurugram and also in other parts of south Haryana suffer due to a lack of documented history. There is hardly any information beyond what is mentioned in the gazetteer.

Government apathy

The preservation of heritage and historical monuments was probably never Haryana’s priority. The Department of Archaeology and Museums was established in 1969 in the form of a cell under the control of the Education Department. It became an independent department in 1972 with a small staff and a meagre budget. By that time encroachments had already taken a toll on most of the monuments. The department continues to be one of the lowest on the priority list, and struggles with a shortage of staff and budget. Haryana till date has no scientific or planned initiative to revive the lost heritage and preserve the available heritage to develop tourism opportunities.

Poor visitors’ experience

Despite its strategic position, tourism in Gurugram sadly is all about new age marvels. No monument has properly been converted into a tourist spot or promoted as one, leading to poor visitors’ experience. The lack of facilities deters first-time visitors and spreads negative publicity instead. No incentives are being provided to preserve or promote heritage.

Badshahpur ‘baoli’ now a sewage dumpsite

Badshahpur village once had a fort built on 17 acres that has been lost to massive encroachments. All that exists today is a crumbled wall and a decrepit bastion. However, a slice of history remains in the form of a step-well (baoli). The 114-year-old step-well in the periphery of the busy Sohna road draws attention towards the city’s lost as well as depleting heritage. The step-well hit headlines in 2017 when a proposal to fill it up with sand and earth to construct a road was mooted and conservationists and a group of architecture students from Sushant School of Architecture raised the alarm. The plan was stayed and the state government promised to revive and restore the historical step-well. However, not much has been done. Having wilted under the weight of trash and sewage discharged from neighbouring villages, the area can easily be mistaken for an open dumping site and not identified with an over 110-year-old historical monument. Mounds of sand surround the ‘baoli’, which till January this year faced the prospect of being filled up with earth and sand to build a road. Though timely intervention ensured the ‘baoli’ was not destroyed, there is little clarity over its future. According to an inscription on the step-well, it was constructed by Lala Mohanlal in 1905. His family was the key custodian of the step-well that was built as a charity till the government acquired it in 2012 for a compensation of Rs 16 lakh. The step-well is used as a discharge ground for trash and sewage from neighbouring villages. Mounds of sand surrounding it and encroachments present a poor picture.

French memorial

The memorial testifies the golden period of Begum Samru’s rule. It is situated in Mohyal Colony in Sector 40, Gurugram, and dates back to the 19th century. The 200-year-old memorial is dedicated to Jean Etienne, a French soldier, who served in Begum Samru’s army. Damaged by human meddling and natural wear and tear over the years, one has to strain one’s eyes to decipher the almost faded inscriptions on the memorial. The epitaph mentions the date of Etienne’s death as Sunday, June 5, 1821. Etienne served Begum Samru for 35 years until his death at the age of 75. “He served Begum Sombre for thirty-five years, was a common soldier and an honest man (sic),” reads the epitaph on the memorial.

Heritage awareness programme in schools

The Department of Archaeology and Museums is planning to include more archaeological sites and monuments under the state protection. We have identified several monuments in Gurugram and some of them are already in the process of being included. We are working on their landscaping and beautification. We are also planning to arrange a heritage awareness programme at the school level. Main problems are due to a lack of regular technical staff but we are trying to do our job. — Banani Bhattacharyya, Deputy Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums.

- https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/weekly-pullouts/haryana-tribune/gurugram-s-forgotten-past/774745.html, May 20, 2019

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Rani Bakhri to get a fresh look by June end

The historical Rani Bakhri or queen’s palace in the city is all set to get a new lease of life as renovation work reaches its final stages. Aiming to restore its lost glory without altering the main structure, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage has adopted traditional method for the renovation work. Member of INTACH, Sambalpur Chapter, Deepak Panda said work on painting of motifs inside the monument and restoration of paintings is underway. The work is going on in full swing and a target has been set to complete renovation by June end, he said. Traditional techniques are being applied in restoration of the monument and materials like lime, gum of Bael (wood apple), Ritha (wash nut) and jaggery are being used. A paste is prepared using traditional grinder locally called ‘Ghana’ by mixing lime, gum of Bael, Ritha and jaggery in specified proportions and plastering was done by using the paste. The old plaster of the historical structure was removed and fresh plastering undertaken, he added. All the renovation work has been carried out without affecting the original structure. The three-storey Rani Bakhri was built by the 5th King of Sambalpur, Baliyar Singh, in 1650. Historians say Rajasthani miniature paintings adorned the walls giving the palace a unqiue look. However, water seepage from the roof of the palace erased the paintings. Panda said there is also a proposal to develop corridor surrounding the palace. The State Government has agreed to provide `65 lakh separately for land acquisition. There is a proposal to develop an art and photography gallery inside Rani Bakhri. The paintings of renowned painters of the region besides photographs will be displayed at the gallery.

- http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/2019/may/18/rani-bakhri-to-get-a-fresh-look-by-june-end-1978501.html, May 20, 2019

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Museum Day special: Painting competition for kids at Tribal Museum

On International Museum Day, several activities were planned in the city. A painting competition was organized at the Tribal Museum along with a tour for school children. A tour was given to over 165 students from various schools of the city. After the tour, children were encouraged to participate in the painting competition where they portrayed their perception with colourful paintings. The competition was divided into three categories based on age. Inspired by tribal painting adorning the museum, some children painted the Warli art form and others recreated the interiors of the museum on canvas. Some other students challenged their imagination outside the walls of the museum and painted historical buildings of the city. Some also painted gods and goddesses. To complement the museum's tribal character and on the day of Buddha Purnima, a three-day play festival ‘YashoDhara’ has also started. On the first day, a dance drama ‘Swarnmarg’, directed by Kochandra Madhav Barik, was staged. The story, which revolves around the pre-birth folk tales inspired by Lord Buddha’s life, begins with death of a rich businessman who leaves behind a spendthrift son and ends with the king announcing that slaughter of animals be stopped.

Rare coins displayed at state museum

A coin exhibition was organized at the state museum showcasing rich heritage of coins from different parts of the state and belonging to different kingdoms. The ‘Sikko Ki Kahani’ exhibition is the private collection of R.C. Thakur of Ashwini Shodh Sansthan in Mahidpur, Ujjain. It is divided into various sections, including ‘Punchmark Coins’, ‘Mughal Era Coins’, ‘Maurya Era Coins’, ‘Vikaramaditya Era Coins’, Coins of Indian states and other countries, 'Naga coins’, ‘Takshashila-Gandhar Coins’ and Modern Era Coins. The exhibition showcased coins made of gold, silver, copper, bronze, lead and bell metal. In all, 20 gold coins, including 2,100- year-old Kanishka era currency, 1,700-year-old Chandragupta I currency, currency of Portugal and many others were on display. Coins from the reign of Alauddin Khilji Some rare collections, including coin of Buddha in meditation, currency of Sher Shah Suri, portrait currency of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Alexander the Great were also on display

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/museum-day-special-painting-competition-for-kids-at-tribal-museum/articleshow/69391668.cms, May 20, 2019

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Art contest for students at Central Museum today

The Central Museum, Nagpur, will be celebrating International Museum Day on Saturday with an art competition organized for students, informs the curator of the museum, Virag Sontakke. Established in 1863, the Central Museum, Nagpur, is the oldest museum in India. The museum holds valuable collection of rare sculptures, paintings, stuffed birds and animals, arms and ammunitions, textiles, ivory, coins, manuscripts, archaeological findings from excavations, anthropological artifacts all displayed in its ten galleries. Nagpur heritage gallery and arts and craft gallery are the most recent additions that essay the history of the city through photographs and information about important personalities. Renovation of the Stone Sculpture Gallery and paleontological section under Natural History gallery at the museum was completed last year. The gallery consists of various stone sculptures ranging from 1st century AD to 18th century. In the paleontological section, the main attraction is the femur and tibia fibula of Jainosaurus septenrionalis dinosaur excavated by a British officer Sir Matley. The museum has its own curio shop where art objects, replicas of museum exhibits, printed objects photo frames, printed bottles, mugs are kept for sale at nominal prices.

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/art-contest-for-students-at-central-museum-today/articleshow/69380446.cms, May 20, 2019

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International Museum Day: Naveen urges all to visit museums across Odisha

On the occasion of International Museum Day, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has urged all to visit the museums across Odisha to help promote the rich heritage of the state. Taking to Twitter, the Odisha CM wrote: “Museums are treasure troves of knowledge and great window to our cultures. On this International Museum Day, I urge all to visit museums across Odisha like State Museum & and Kala Bhoomi in Bhubaneswar and help promote our rich heritage”.

International Museum Day is celebrated annually on May 18 to raise awareness about the importance of museums as “means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Events and activities related to International Museum Day can last a day, a weekend or an entire week, according to the International Council of Museums, which organised the first International Museum Day in 1977. In line with the theme of International Museum Day 2019— “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The future of tradition”— here is a look at some of the most prominent museums in Odisha.

Museum of Tribal Arts & Artifacts (Bhubaneswar)

This superbly curated and displayed museum truly deserves inclusion in any discussion of the world’s finest ethnographic museums. This is an excellent museum – beautifully laid out, well displayed and with the added bonus of room attendants who are knowledgeable and very willing to answer any questions and talk about the exhibits more fully.

Odisha State Museum (Bhubaneswar)

There are various galleries in the museum such as the archaeology, armoury, manuscripts, bronze, painting, art & craft, epigraphy, numismatics, natural history and anthropology that exhibit certain artifacts. Netaji Birth Place Museum (Cuttack)

This place is marked as the birth house of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, presently converted as a museum with artifacts related to his childhood days and Azad Hind army. The museum houses photographs, charts, household items from the Bose household which tell us the story of Netaji’s parents, his birth, education and his political journey in India and abroad.

Odisha Maritime Museum (Cuttack)

This excellent new museum, sitting on the bank of the Mahanadi River, focuses on Odisha’s centuries-old maritime history of trade and boat-building. The maritime museum shows the old Odisha, the unique shipbuilding design (Boita), the history of Odiya sailors and business spread.

Kala Bhoomi

Strolling past the traditional hut-shaped edifice of Kala Bhoomi at Pokhariput in Bhubaneswar, one will come across some exquisite paintings on the wall depicting the ethereal and beautiful culture of the state. Trees planted in and around add to its beauty. The crafts museum, spread over 12.68 acres, is divided into two blocks – handicrafts and handloom. The building is a replica of old Odia-styled household with a traditional courtyard connecting the two sections. Regional Museum of Natural History (Bhubaneswar)

Giving out a message to conserve nature and natural resources is the museum in Bhubaneswar which displays a large variety of animals, plants and geology that belongs to Eastern and north-eastern India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Archaeological Museum (Konark)

Located on the northern side of the Konark temple complex, this museum started in 1968 contains the various pieces of carvings and reconstructed portions of the temple. It is a museum located near Sun Temple Konark which has preserved certain stones and architectural pieces of the temple.”

Here are some other museums to visit:
Pathani Samanta Planetarium (Bhubaneswar)
Regional Science Centre (Bhubaneswar)
Handicrafts Museum (Bhubaneswar)
Orissa Modern Art Gallery (Bhubaneswar)
Tribal Museum (Koraput)
Sudarshan Craft Museum (Puri)

- http://www.pragativadi.com/international-museum-day-naveen-urges-all-to-visit-museums-across-odisha/, May 20, 2019

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History buried among cramped houses at Thangassery

Celine’s backyard has a nondescript structure, a crumbling mass of rubble. On closer inspection you can identify a burial mound, which stands as a testimony to the British and Dutch presence in Thangassery during the 18th century. Located close to the St. Thomas fort, protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the relic has been long used by Celine for doing her laundry. She calls the colonial remnant that holds over 200 years of history ‘sayippinte kallara’ (tomb of the white man), an inconsequential pile of stones. On the opposite side of the alley is a huge memorial structure covered in foliage and on top of another relatively untouched tomb sits a water tank. Despite heritage being wrecked and buried on a daily basis here, authorities seem least concerned. “Though the ASI took over the Thangassery fort in the 1960s, it later de-protected it. It remained totally neglected for a while and during that period many parts were encroached upon. In the 1980s, the ASI declared it a monument. By the time the fort and its premises received proper attention, many families were living in the cemetery,” says S. Hemachandran, former director, Archaeology Department. The site has English and Dutch tombs from the 1750s that are in urgent need of conservation, but surprisingly no proper archaeological survey has been conducted so far.

Deplorable state

“The place is in a very deplorable state as the residents have constructed toilets and other structures near the tombs. It is now a settlement with water and electricity connection and I wonder how the city Corporation could allow that. Despite repeated pleas from archaeologists, the government has taken no step to conserve this piece of history,” he says. The residents agree that many structures have disappeared over the years. Tablets and headstones have been removed and plates with inscriptions have gone missing.

Historical relevance

“It is a huge cemetery with two sections, English and Dutch, both triangular in shape. More than 300 persons have been buried there and it is a site with great historical relevance,” says Manoj Kumar Kini, urban designer who has been researching the history of Kollam. “There was a guillotine among the ruins and its blade was still intact till 30 years ago. We have already lost much due to lack of concern and proper conservation, but it is still possible to restore it.” There are over 20 families living in cramped houses in the area concealing the tombs and other structures in their maze.

Rehabilitation

“The only solution is to rehabilitate them and they are ready for that,” says Basil Lal Hubert, resident and former councillor. But the biggest hurdle for the authorities will be to find land as the families are not willing to relocate to a place that affects their livelihood.

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/history-buried-among-cramped-houses-at-thangassery/article27166244.ece, May 20, 2019

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INTACH, GGM Sc College hold interactive session

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Jammu Chapter in collaboration with GGM Science College (Erstwhile Prince of Wales College) Jammu organised an interactive session to commemorate International Museum Day for highlighting the Geology Museum of the college, which is one of the oldest museums of India. Maj Gen (Retd) G S Jamwal AVSM was the Chief Guest on the occasion and impressed upon the authorities as well as civil societies and organisations like INTACH to save heritage places of Jammu with significant historical backgrounds like Wadia Geology Museum of GGM Science College Jammu. Prof Poonam Chowdhary, Director Centre for Museology, University of Jammu briefed on the importance of International Museum Day and museums of the nation. Vinod Malhotra, former Divisional Commissioner, Town Planning Organisation, J&K Government explained historical background of GGM Science College and highlighted planning of the college and selection of the site with development of lush green grounds. Prof C K Khajuria, HOD, Geology Department gave a presentation on Wadia Geology Museum having rich and unique collections since its inception. He also talked about the importance of the museum at the International level, as scholars from other countries like USA and UK have visited the same for research/study purpose. S M Sahni (KAS Retd), Convener Intach Jammu Chapter highlighted importance of Geology Museum, which can be projected at the Tourism Map of Jammu. He further informed that the clay surfaced Tennis court of the historic GGM Science College was one of the famous Tennis Courts of Northern India where Inter-State matches were played. He remembered that the clay court was well maintained and students were not allowed to move in tennis court area. Further, the tributaries of Ranbir Canal used to irrigate the playgrounds of the campus. The conservation plans in the form of DPRs stands prepared and furnished to the authorities in year 2017-18 for restoration/conservation of the heritage buildings of GGM Science College. Vice Principal of the college presented formal vote of thanks and appreciated efforts of INTACH Jammu Chapter for helping the college management to highlight the importance of Geology Museum (Wadia Museum of Geology).

Faculty members of the college, scholars, students, members of INTACH, members of press and media fraternity along with Harbinder Singh, Himani Badyal, Vernika Gupta, Sandeep Singh Pathania, Sapna, Kirpal Singh and event coordinator of INTACH Jammu Chapter, S S Rissam were also present on the occasion. Prof Sukhchain Singh of Geology Department coordinated the event.

- http://news.statetimes.in/intach-ggm-sc-college-hold-interactive-session/, May 21, 2019

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World Bee Day 2019: What’s All The Buzz About?

Come to think of bees, these tiny fuzzy, buzzy creatures are more significant to the existence of our kind than we would like to imagine. World Bee Day is celebrated on today, May 20, and is designed to spread awareness about the importance and significance of bees. To say that they are extremely vital to the health of the planet is the least. Hence, it’s only fair that they have their own day. “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” You've probably seen this quote, usually attributed to Albert Einstein, in connection with colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious disease that is sweeping through US and European honeybee hives. The thought also resonated in the 2010 Bollywood drama My Name Is Khan wherein, there is a scene that has Shah Rukh Khan’s character quoting the same dialogue to Kajol while they’re on a job. Ring any bells? So what makes bees so crucial to human beings? To begin with, a third of the world’s food production depends on bees. Bees pollinate 75% of leading global crops, including oilseed rape, apples, soft fruits, beans and courgettes, as well as things like tomatoes and strawberries. Bees are vital for the preservation of the ecological balance, biodiversity in nature and help reduce pollution. Beekeeping is an art and a mesmerizing science. The practice of beekeeping in India has been mentioned in ancient Vedas and Buddhist scriptures. Rock paintings of the Mesolithic era found in Madhya Pradesh depict honey collection activities. Scientific methods of beekeeping, however, started only in the late 19th century, although records of taming honeybees and using in warfare are seen in the early 19th century. After Indian independence, beekeeping was promoted through various rural developmental programs. Five species of bees that are commercially important for natural honey and beeswax production are found in India, namely Apis dorsata (Rock bee) (and a larger Himalayan subspecies, Apis dorsata laboriosa), Apis cerana indica (Indian hive bee), Apis florea (dwarf bee), Apis mellifera (European or Italian bee), and Tetragonula iridipennis (Dammer or stingless bee). The modern picture for these marvelous beings is not as pretty as they are. Scientific studies have proven that bees have become increasingly endangered. The UN says one million species face extinction. This year, World Bee Day highlights 17 species of bees that have been wiped out from eastern England, while 25 others suffer the threat of extinction. Campaigners are in a bid to mobilize the largest support possible for the protection of bees. A survey conducted by Buglife, a British-based nature conservation charity, revealed that many of the rarer, most specialist bees are battling to keep up with the changing face of their landscape and increasingly hot weather. The research says, “Although a few species have expanded their populations and range, more species are in decline, 17 species are already extinct in the region and another six species are now so endangered there are only known to survive on single sites - this is a very unhealthy picture." How can we as responsible civilians help the bees? Donate to hobbyists who pursue beekeeping or adopt a synthetic apiary Planting bee friendly plants like heather and daisies in your garden can help. Leaving sections of the garden wild and letting the grass grow long gives the bees a place to shelter. Leaving a small dish with a few pebbles and shallow water in can help if a bee is thirsty. There are also special bricks which bees can live in

- https://in.mashable.com/science/3528/world-bee-day-2019-whats-all-the-buzz-about, May 21, 2019

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UNESCO includes Kailash Mansarovar in tentative list of world heritage sites

If Kailash Mansarovar officially becomes the part of UNESCO world heritage sites permanently then Uttarakhand will benefited the most as communities living along the pilgrimage route will be incorporated in the plan to develop sustainable tourism for the site. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) has included Kailash Mansarovar in its tentative list of world heritage sites, reported sources at Ministry of Culture on May 19. This year in April, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) along with Ministry of Environment and Forests sent a proposal to UNESCO to list Kailash Mansoravar into its world Heritage sites. In the proposal, Kailash Mansarovar was categorized under both as a natural as well as a cultural heritage. Kailash Mansarovar, popularly known as Mount Kailash, is the highest peak in Kailash range located in Lake Mansarovar in the remote south-western portion of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and adjacent districts in the far-western region of Nepal. The Kailash Mansorovar is expanded across an area of 6,836 sq km within India, the area is flanked in the east by Nepal and bordered by China on the north. The Indian site is part of the larger landscape of 31,000 sq km. Both China and Nepal have proposed the landscape as a world heritage site to UNESCO. If Kailash Mansarovar officially becomes the part of UNESCO world heritage sites permanently, the north-Indian state, Uttarakhand, a major transit point of the annual Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage, will be benefited. This is because, as communities living along the pilgrimage route will be incorporated in the plan to develop sustainable tourism for the site. The Indian portion of the landscape in the State of Uttarakhand comprises four major watersheds viz. the Panar-Saryu, the Saryu-Ramganga, the Gori-Kali and the Dhauli-Kali. At present, UNESCO's list includes as many as 845 cultural Heritage sites across the world, out of which 29 are from India.

- https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/unesco-includes-kailash-mansarovar-in-tentative-list-of-world-heritage-sites/story/348216.html, May 21, 2019

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Renovated Rani Bakhri To Open Another Historical Chapter In Sambalpur

Samaleswari Temple, Ghanteswari Pitha, Huma Temple and Hirakud Dam, this apart, Sambalpur will soon offer a slice of history to people visiting the city. The renovation of Jemadei Mahal, popularly known as Rani Bakhri or Queen’s Palace, here is nearing completion. “The motifs inside the monuments are being painted and restored. We will be done with giving final touches to the structure by June-end,” said Deepak Panda, member of INTACH, Sambalpur Chapter. INTACH has used traditional methods to restore the Mahal’s past glory. “The renovation work has been carried out without tampering the original structure. After stitching the cracks, fresh plastering was done using a paste of lime, gun of Bael (wood apple), Ritha (wash nuts) and jaggery,” he said. The building was lying neglected till INTACH took it up in 2017 after its Sambalpur chapter was formed. Many people were not even aware of its existence despite the fact that it is only about 100 metres from the temple of the presiding deity of the city. “I had climbed atop the building in 1989. It was in a precarious condition. It had developed cracks and plants had grown all over it. The roof on the second floor was also missing,” he said. In 2001, the roof of Rani Bakhri was rebuilt and repair work was done at Raja Bakhri with grant money dispersed by the Central government under ‘Project Odisha’ scheme. The work was taken up by State Archaeology Department, Panda further said. Plans are afoot to develop the surroundings and a lawn, he said, adding that there is a proposal for an art and photo gallery, where paintings of renowned painters of the region will be displayed, inside Rani Bakhri. Adjacent to Rani Bakhri is Raja Bakhri, which is in an equally bad shape. “We wanted to take up Raja Bakri first, but the Culture Department sanctioned Rs 1.5 crore for Rani Bakri after we submitted a detailed project report for it,” he said. According to Panda, Rani Bakhri is architecturally richer than Raja Bakhri, which was built by King Chhatra Sai in the beginning of the 17th Century. “These are called Bakhri because that is how people address a ‘kothi’ or multiple-storey building here. Rani Bakhri is a three-storey structure and sports a Rajasthani style of architecture. The structure of the tombs and the motifs reflect the same,” he said. Contrary to popular belief that Rajasthani miniature paintings once adorned its wall, Panda said they are actually Odishan paintings like Pattachitra. However, water seeping through the roof has already erased many of them. The Raja Bakhri is bigger in size and has around 40 rooms. “Spread over an acre, it is a modern building. This too, is without a roof. Some roof work was carried out at Raja Bakhri from the grant we received from the INTACH central office as an emergency fund,” he said. INTACH has prepared a detailed project report for Raja Bakhri too. “We will need around Rs 4.5 crore for the renovation of this structure,” he said. However, the problem does not end with renovation. There is no proper approach to these monuments. “In the 1960s, plotting was done by the government and land distributed among people. Since they are authentic owners of the plots, they will be given compensation to part with some portion of their land for laying the approach road. The Culture Department had sanctioned Rs 65 for the acquisition of land. We are not aware where the sanctioned money is. We will take up the matter with the department and the Collector,” said Panda. Once everything falls into place, these monuments will be another spot of tourist attraction in Sambalpur, he added.

- https://www.odishabytes.com/renovated-rani-bakhri-to-open-another-historical-chapter-in-sambalpur/, May 22, 2019

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Heritage warriors up in arms over threat to historical site

Officials of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) on Monday surveyed the spot for which National Monuments Authority (NMA) has given a no-objection certificate (NOC) to a builder for developing luxury villas between the Golconda Fort and the Qutb Shahi tombs complex. “I am surprised that the NMA has given the NOC even after knowing the importance of the 500-year-old site with a medieval stepwell, the aqueduct and sluice gate for flooding the moat. There must be other archaeological relics buried in the ground,” said Anuradha Reddy, convenor for Intach-Hyderabad chapter, who visited the site along with architects and volunteers.

Review sought

Meanwhile, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has written a letter demanding that the grant of NOC be reviewed. “The plot is within the proposed property for World Heritage Nomination. It seems incorrect for the NMA to have considered the 100-metre prohibited distance from the ramparts of the Golconda fortification rather than from the majestic moat that encircles Golconda at this location (sic),” says the letter by AKTC CEO Ratish Nanda on May 20. The AKTC, which is restoring the Qutb Shahi Tombs complex, has raised several other objections to the NOC in the letter. The NMA gave the NOC to a builder to construct 54 three-storey villas on a land parcel that is a stone’s throw from the southern side of the Qutb Shahi tombs complex. It invoked the licence to construct the villas given by Archaeological Survey of India in 2008. The ASI terms and conditions in 2008 included: “No heavy machines like JCBs etc. should be used during the construction at any time any place for any purpose within or outside the Golconda Fort.”

ASI terms tweaked

But even this condition has been changed by NMA to suit the builder: “No use of heavy machinery except JCB”. JCB is a generic word for earthmovers, while it happens to be a UK-based company that manufactures equipment for demolition, waste handling and construction. “This development will have a major impact on whatever chances Hyderabad has of having a Unesco World Heritage Site nomination. It will destroy the most important historical connect that the two locations have. The visual connect will be lost too. This arbitrary decision will lead to other regularisations and complete ruin,” says city-based engineer and historian Sajjad Shahid. Meanwhile, author William Dalrymple tweeted his dismay at the development: “Hyderabad continues to destroy its own heritage: Appalling news that 100 villas have been authorised between the Golconda Fort and Tombs. World Heritage Site tag may continue to elude Hyderabad (sic).”

- https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/heritage-warriors-up-in-arms-over-threat-to-historical-site/article27199876.ece, May 22, 2019

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Srinagar - A City of Craft and Folk

Kashmir Valley is known for its blending of multiple cultural and rich heritages. Apart from being an important scenic city of Kashmir Valley, Srinagar is known for its geographical and historical importance. Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir State, is also known worldwide for its unique handicrafts and handloom products. The splendid work of art and craft in Jammu and Kashmir makes it famous all over the world. Some kind of elegant art work is present almost in everything in Jammu and Kashmir, be it embroidery on the shawls, papier-mache and copper Ware and wood work. Srinagar have been quite famous for enhancing the beauty of arts and craft of Jammu and Kashmir. They are world famous for carpets and wooden furniture. Along with it, the antique items include Shahtoosh Shawls and Pashmina shawls. Crewel works, brass and silver ware are other interesting articles. In spite of the influence of modernity and industrialization, the handicraft products of the state continue to receive worldwide acclaims. In the absence of large-scale industries in the state, handicrafts have remained a key source of economic activity in the state. They have contributed to state economy in difficult times . The handicraft activities have the capability to generate employment opportunities at a large scale if the markets are expanded and demand is increased by bringing in different marketing methodologies. Analysing overall scenario and performance of handicraft product even during the years of political unrest, it indeed gives a ray of hope to focus on it so that growth and development in the sector, especially in terms of exports, is maintained. The arts and crafts of Jammu and Kashmir has recognition all over the world and everyone in the state is affiliated to this occupation in one way or another and is the major economic sector of the state. Crafts in the state vary from the embroidery to shawl weaving, wood carving to paper machie, carpet weaving to namda weaving and much more. The arts and crafts of Srinagar have been enriched since the ancient time as it offered the locals to intermingle with each other’s culture. Srinagar got habituated by the Persian, Tibetan, and Mughals and the arts and crafts of the region got influenced by these cultures. Traditional items from Srinagar are in great demand from tourists all over the world. Pashmina Shawls and dress materials are the most popular items of Srinagar. Carpets and hand-woven rugs, woolen items, jackets, embroidered Phirhan and scarves are some of the other handloom works that one could exclusively get in Srinagar. Namdas and sarees, dress materials with Naqqashi work are also bought in great numbers by the tourists. Silk sarees and other silk materials, embroidered handbags, purses, files are also the specialties of Srinagar. INTACH KASHMIR chapter is preparing a dossier for inclusion of Srinagar city under UNESCO cities network .INTACH is working with DRONAH organisation .DRONAH has successfully last year managed to get Jaipur city listed in UNESCO heritage cities network .Srinagar has a strong case to get listed as UNESCO heritage city in category of craft and folk arts .if this happens the craft sector will get a new lease of life .Crafts are not an ordinary enterprises in Srinagar . They are symbolic of history and culture of Kashmir and its people. Different crafts being practised in Srinagar city are summed up below :

Carpets

The origin of hand knotted carpets locally known as "Kal baffi" dates back to 15th century after which it progressively attained the high degree of perfection. It is said that Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin brought carpet weavers from Persia and central Asia in to Kashmir to train the local inhabitants. Carpets from 200 knots to 900 knots/sq. inch both in wool & silk yarn have attained such excellence that they rank amongst the finest in the world.

Kashmiri Shawls

About Kashmir Shawls it is said "Of all Indian textiles none excels in beauty, colour, texture and design as the famous Kashmir Shawl" Shawls are produced by two techniques, loom woven or kani shawls and the needle embroidered or sozni shawls.The basic fabric is of the three types - Shah Tush, Pashmina and Raffal

Copperware

The age old crafting of copper is deep rooted in srinagar culture this craft is Practised in Fateh kadal, Nawab bazar ,Rainawari, Bohri kadal ,SR gunj etc.

Namda

Felt Namda is a local term used for felted wool floor coverings , used during winters as a tug for warmth it is Practised in Chargari Mohallah ,nawab bazar , Safa kadal , Jamalatta, Kanimazar etc.

Papermachie

This craft is being practised in Zadibal, Alamgiribazar , Nowpora, nowshehra ,Botakadal etc. Paper make is one of the most popular crafts being practised in kashmir the tradition of kashmir papermache has its origin rooted in 15th century when king Zain ul Abidin invited accomplished artists and craftsmen from Central Asia .

Wood Carving ,Khatamband and Pinjra:

Walnut wood carving is one of the fascinating and delicate craft being practised in srinagar city ,it’s almost practised in all areas in srinagar city . Pinjra craft is also a traditional craft practised in srinagar city at many places like chattabal area .

Willow Wicker

Practised in Hazratbal ,Harwan ,Shalabugh and soura . Locally known as KaniKaem is a hand skilled craft involving weaving using willow reeds.

Aari Embroidery

It’s a fascinating hook work done in silk ,wool and cotton threads .it’s locally called aarikaem and the hook is called Aerr. In srinagar this craft is almost practised everywhere mostly in noorbagh cluster.

- http://brighterkashmir.com/srinagar--a-city-of-craft-and-folk, May 22, 2019

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Kailash Mansarovar may get UNESCO heritage status

UNESCO has added the Indian portion of Kailash Mansarovar to its tentative list of world heritage sites. This move was proposed by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) along with the Ministry of Environment and Forests to UNESCO in April. As per the proposal, the site was entered under the mixed category that includes both natural and cultural heritage.

What’s unique about Kailash Mansarovar?

A UNESCO appointed world heritage site is a landmark or an area that is legally protected by treaties to preserve the culture and the heritage of the place. The Kailash Mansarovar is of prominent cultural and religious significance to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. In Hinduism, it is believed that Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva and whoever takes a dip in Lake Mansarovar is forgiven of all his sins for 100 lifetimes. Mount Kailash is known as Mount Meru in Buddhist texts and is a major pilgrimage site for the community. In Jainism, it is the site next to which the first Thirthankara attained enlightenment. Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar make up the Kailash Sacred Landscape covering an area of 31,000sqkm. 6,836sqkm of this landscape is found within India, while the remaining area is shared with the south-western portion of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and adjacent districts in the far-western region of Nepal. Both China and Nepal have proposed this landscape to the UNESCO as a world heritage site as well. The addition of Lake Mansarovar and Lake Kailash will not only take the count of India’s world heritage site to 38 but this prestigious tag will also be greatly appreciated by the communities living along the yatra route in Uttarakhand as it would encourage sustainable tourism.

- https://www.cntraveller.in/story/kailash-mansarovar-may-get-unesco-heritage-status-uttarakhand/#s-custgrand-hyatt-kochi-bolgatty-indoor-swimming-pool, May 22, 2019

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Reality check: Delhi’s five lakes at deep end

At a time when the Delhi is planning to spend hundreds of crores to revive more than 200 water bodies, the city’s existing lakes — some as large as the Nainital lake are dying a slow death. Paras Singh and Jasjeev Gandhiok profile their plight. Model Town’s little lake is on life support. Turn off the three municipal borewells that steadily pump water into it, and it might turn into a dry bowl. The groundwater keeping it alive is a cure worse than the disease — experts say it is making the lake salty and unlivable for aquatic plants and animals. The lake looked uninviting when TOI saw it last week. The water was muddy and rich with plankton, the air rank with decay. “It smells, and as summer peaks, more fish will die,” said Juhi Chaudhary from the ‘Save Naini Lake’ campaign that has been fighting for the lake’s revival since 2015. She said nothing has been done about the algae in the lake, nor about improving the water quality and enriching its biodiversity. This is despite the attention the lake gets. Politicians have visited it and made assurances about reviving it. Bureaucrats have released plans for public consultation. But the lake changes only for the worse. TOI found the surrounding walks and benches broken. A waterfall didn’t work. Some trees planted along the boundary had been uprooted. One corner was infested with rats. Boating used to be one of the lake’s attractions, especially for DU students, but a tussle between the AAP-led tourism department and the BJP-led North Delhi Municipal Corporation put an end to it about three years ago, said corporation officials. Most of the ducks and swans have also died. But municipal officials say they don’t have the funds to take up these works. Their master plan for the lake has been in limbo for a year due to shortage of funds. Chaudhary disagreed: “The problem is of intent and vested interests. They had the funds. The Centre announced the funding, but nobody knows where the funds went, if they were sanctioned.” Bhalswa Lake: The last time this lake beside Bhalswa golf course filled up to the brim was in 1964. That year, an embankment cut off the inflow of water from the Yamuna. Then, a landfill swallowed one arm of its horseshoe shape, reducing it to a halfkilometre-long pond. Finally, human and animal excrement from nearby settlements fouled up its waters so badly that Bhalswa Lake — once comparable in size to the lake in Nainital — is now a sorry sight. Last week, TOI saw sewage from punctured drains around Bhalswa dairies flowing directly into the lake’s western bank. So much waste has been dumped into it that islands of mud and garbage take up half of its width along Outer Ring Road. Yet, Delhi government, somehow, still imagines it is a site for adventure sports like kayaking. Even the eastern bank, where DTIIDC offers boating, is lined with garbage and leftovers from Chhath Puja. Manu Bhatnagar, principal director of conservation body Intach’s natural heritage division, said, “In summer, the water level goes down so much that you cannot even boat in it.” Can it be saved? Bhatnagar said aquatic life in the lake will revive if dumping of waste from the dairies stops. Intach had recommended building a sewage treatment plant for the dairy drains, and using treated water from the nearby supplementary drain to recharge the lake. Its management plan for the lake lies forgotten. A recent joint survey by DDA, PWD and Delhi Jal Board has not translated into action either. North corporation’s proposed biogas plant for the dairies might save the lake, though. The corporation will buy animal dung from the dairies and use it to generate electricity from biogas. Purana Qila Lake: The lake outside Purana Qila was once part of a moat that kept enemies at bay. Now, after a Rs 30-crore make-over last year, it stops water from seeping into the soil. As Delhi’s groundwater level has plunged, open grounds and waterbodies are needed to recharge it. Yet, the lake bed has been lined with an impervious geo-textile disregarding objections from environmentalists. Ironically, the renovation was done under orders from the National Green Tribunal, the country’s top environment court. Skirting the fort’s 500-year-old walls between Talaqi (forbidden) and Humayun gates, the renovated lake is no better than a tar road. Bhatnagar said it is now dependent on tankers and other artificial sources because a lot of water is lost to evaporation. The lake could have been restored without making it less useful to the environment, Bhatnagar said. Intach had recommended using water from the NDMC drain that crosses Bhairon Marg near the fort. “You would not have needed to concretise the lake. This would have been a much cheaper option too.” Left to nature, it might have been easier to maintain as well. Although the lake was inaugurated only last October, TOI found algae and moss spreading in its stagnant water. not well, though, as this 17-hectare waterbody — about as large as 24 football fields — in east Delhi’s Trilokpuri is dependent on groundwater. “A lake needs to sustain itself naturally and not deplete groundwater,” said Bhatnagar. The conservation body had recommended feeding the lake from the Kondli sewage treatment plant. To keep the water moving, it had proposed to supply the lake water to the bus terminus and railway station at Anand Vihar for non-drinking purposes. “This would not only ensure the water keeps moving but also generate revenue,” said Bhatnagar. But their proposal remains on paper. With adventure activities on offer, the DDA-maintained lake is a popular family hangout. However, TOI found sections of the boundary wall broken and garbage dumped on the periphery. Locals said large quantities of sewage flow into the lake, and the dense growth of algae and plants on the water — due to a high concentration of nitrates and phosphates from sewage — seemed to confirm this. The ‘hauz’ in Hauz Khas has been around for 700-odd years, and for long it was Delhi’s model for reviving dead waterbodies. Not anymore. Today, you can smell the lake before you see it. Near the banks, its water is thick as slime and dark green with algae. Bhatnagar said the stench arises from the algal bloom that thrives on sewage entering the lake from Mehrauli Earlier, water from sewage treatment plants was further cleaned with duckweed near Sanjay Van, before being released into the lake, he said. “This is not happening anymore, and it significantly alters the quality of water entering the lake. Worse, sewage from the Mehrauli side is also entering the lake now.” The lake’s old aerators don’t work and its 10 floating islands that purify water by sucking out nitrates are too few to make a difference. “While 11 aerators were installed for improved oxygen levels, poor maintenance means they are not functioning anymore,” said Bhatnagar. “The lake’s deep end, which is next to the buildings, falls in the shadow area and is the worst affected.”

- https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/reality-check-delhis-5-lakes-at-deep-end/articleshow/69450987.cms, May 23, 2019

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World Turtle Day: New venture hopes to put spotlight on India’s freshwater turtles and tortoises

In the run-up to “World Turtle Day” on May 23, herpetologists have launched a unique initiative to gather more information about India’s freshwater turtles and tortoises. The India Biodiversity Portal (IBP), a website formed as “a repository of information designed to harness and disseminate collective intelligence on the biodiversity of the Indian subcontinent”, is hosting a week-long campaign on the animals. Anyone who has an interest in Indian Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises can participate in the first edition of the Turtle Spotting Week 2019 (May 17 to May 23) and contribute by photographing, documenting and submitting observations of turtles and tortoises that they have observed around their neighbourhood, backyard water body or on wildlife trips. There is a step-by-step procedure given to upload images and observations on the website. According to a press statement released by the IBP, India harbours 28 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises, with Northeast and North India considered as Turtle Biodiversity Hotspots. Over 17 species are Globally Threatened in the IUCN Redlist and populations are under severe pressures of extinction due to a large number of human-made factors. The press statement also advises people “to maintain precaution and hide the precise location while uploading information about species heavily susceptible to trade such as the Indian Flapshell Turtle, Indian Star Tortoise and the Spotted Pond Turtle.” “We have received 50 observations during the week from various states including Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” Sneha Dharwadkar, a herpetologist who, along with wildlife biologist Anuja Mital, is in charge of the initiative, told Down To Earth. “We have got to know about the distribution of various turtle species that was not known till now. Much of the attention among turtles is on the marine varieties. This is the first time that people are talking about freshwater species. It is exciting,” she added. Would this initiative be repeated next year? “We need more spotlight on these animals since there are no proper studies on them. We will try and repeat this exercise every year from now on,” Dharwadkar said.

- https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/world-turtle-day-new-venture-hopes-to-put-spotlight-on-india-s-freshwater-turtles-and-tortoises-64710, May 23, 2019

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ASI plans to set up museum at Halebid

The Archaeological Survey of India has decided to take up development activities at Belur and Halebid, well known for monuments of Hoysala period. A world-class museum has been proposed at Halebid, considering the number of sculptures of historical value available for display. Usha Sharma, Director General of the ASI, visited both the places and inspected how the monuments have been maintained. The officer discussed the proposed development activities with senior ASI officers including K. Moortheshwari, Superintendent Archaeologist, and gave them instructions. Ms. Sharma said that there was a need for excavation works around Hoysaleshwara Temple in Halebid. The department would take up the excavation work so that the socio-cultural history of the Hoysala period could be understood better. A museum would come up in the place so that sculptures could be protected well, she said. The Director-General opined that the monuments lacked proper security. She instructed the officers to ensure the safety of the structures by increasing security. The officers were directed to install metal detectors at the entrance gates. She also took the officers to task for poor maintenance of monuments and lack of basic amenities like drinking water for visitors. The DG also warned the local officers of disciplinary action for negligence in delivering their duties.

Transfer

Meanwhile, ward and watch staff, hired temporarily to maintain the monuments, wanted to meet the Director-General and convey their problems. However, they did not get a chance to meet the officer. The staff had been facing difficulty in getting their salary. When The Hindu brought the problems faced by the staff to her notice over the phone, the Director-General said she would look into the issue. Later in the day, Assistant Archaeologist of Halebid Museum P. Aravazhi was transferred to ASI headquarters in New Delhi for a period of two months. The order reached the officer within a few minutes after the DG left the place. However, he would continue to receive salary and allowances from Halebid office. The reason for his transfer was not cited in the order.

- https://www.ibcworldnews.com/asi-plans-to-set-up-museum-at-halebid/, May 24, 2019

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A retired civil servant’s tireless quest to preserve rural heritage

The civil-servant-turned-social-worker feels that women empowerment is crucial for India’s development. And this is where NGOs supported by the government can play a dynamic role. Even after giving almost 40 years of his life to government service, retired civil servant SK Misra felt his work was still not complete. The former bureaucrat felt that the experience he had gained and the reputation he had built could be better used for public service. Thus began his second innings. After he retired as the Principal Secretary to former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar in the early 1990s, Misra continued his work in the fields of conservation and restoration of heritage, rural development, women empowerment and community engagement. Standing strong at 87, the Padma Bhushan recipient heads the Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD), a non-governmental organisation set up in 2011 that works in villages with strong, often endangered, heritage traditions with projects spread across eight states. "I could never think of total retirement or sitting idle. I felt that the experience that I had gained, I should put that experience to social purpose. I am 87-years-old now and I still can't think of just relaxing," Misra, who also served as tourism, civil aviation and agriculture secretary in the union government and was also principal secretary to three Haryana chief ministers, told IANS in an interview. He added that other officers who gain experience should not just hang up their boots after retirement, but should continue to work "as there are so many areas where work needs to be done and where their experience could be utilised". After retirement, Misra served as the chairman of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the biggest NGO in the country concerned with restoration of heritage, for almost 10 years. But, the need for an organisation focusing solely on rural heritage, birthed ITRHD. "INTACH was primarily urban oriented and was concerned only with conservation. The new NGO, formed in collaboration with a number of distinguished persons from different walks of life, was concerned with conservation of rural heritage and also rural development along with community involvement," he said. Founded with the aim of helping create sustainable viability for heritage while also focusing on its potential as a resource for overall development, his NGO concentrates on infrastructure development, primary education, skill development, employment generation, and development of rural tourism. "In all our projects, the goal is not only to preserve important heritage assets for their own meaning and value, but to help the impoverished rural communities that own them to learn how to successfully manage previously unrecognized heritage resources, in the process achieving self-sufficiency, improved living conditions, and a new sense of pride as owners of these special and most precious parts of our culture," Misra said. While in Jharkhand, ITRHD is working on restoration of 17th century terracotta temples and restoration of a historic jail, in Haryana's Mewat district, it has undertaken a project to restore an extraordinary 700-year-old monument, the Dargah of Sheikh Musa -- a medieval Sufi saint. "In the Maluti village in Jharkhand, there is a unique heritage site with 62 terra-cotta temples. There were 108 temples and now only 62 remain - all in one village," While Misra took the initiative to conserve and protect these unique monuments in 2011, the Jharkhand government in 2015 agreed to fund the entire project with a budget of Rs 7 crore. "The work is going on and we hope to complete it by end of this year," the former bureaucrat said. "In addition, the state government has also entrusted a project of conserving a historical jail in Ranchi which housed freedom fighters of the tribe called Munda. After restoration, it is to be converted into a tribal museum," he added. Started late last year, the project is expected to be completed by 2019 end. In Uttar Pradesh's Azamgarh district, Misra's NGO is working on an initiative to preserve the heritage of an "unusual cluster of historical creativity" of three villages - Nizamabad, Mubarakpur and Hariharpur. Holding India's rich cultural heritage and soft power, Hariharpur has a long classical music tradition, Nizamabad a unique tradition of black pottery, and Mubarakpur thousands of fine silk weavers. "We now organize Azamgarh Festivals annually in both Delhi and Lucknow, at which the artists and musicians from all three villages not only attract new patronage and new support, but also are creating new appreciation for the cultural riches of Azamgarh," Misra said. He realised during his stint as Tourism Secretary that craftsmen need patronage which tourism could provide, he added. "Earlier, they had patronage of Maharajas but that had disappeared. So I felt that tourism can fill that vacuum." This was when he started Surajkund Crafts Mela in 1986 which has now become a global event with about 14 lakh people attending this year, including 60,000 foreigners. Misra says that this benefited craftsmen and its success inspired him to continue similar work even after his retirement. In the musicians' village of Hariharpur, Misra's NGO is also running a primary school offering free education especially focusing on the girl child. The school has recruited local married girls settled in the village, and who had done their graduation, as teachers. The school originally started in a rented building is now functioning from a four-room structure made possible through donations. "We have also achieved social integration through schoolchildren of all communities - Dalit, Brahmin and Yadav, among others have their meals together. Brahmin families initially resisted but we asked them to take their children out. But they came around and now there is no problem. Now there is no feeling of any kind of discrimination," Misra said. The civil-servant-turned-social-worker feels that women empowerment is crucial for India's development. "It is one of the biggest untapped sources in socio-economic development where, apart from some success stories, there hasn't been as much impact as there could have been. The potential is tremendous," he said, adding this was where NGOs supported by the government can play a dynamic role.

- https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/lifestyle/a-retired-civil-servants-tireless-quest-to-preserve-rural-heritage, May 27, 2019

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Need to get rid of colonial mindset in conserving heritage monuments

Like other places in India, Haryana and Gurugram also need to focus on decolonisation of history, heritage or even urban planning for this Millennium City. Not many of us are aware that 25th-31st May is celebrated as the International Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories — 17 of which are still listed with the UN for decolonisation. India, which has a history of colonisation, has repeatedly emphasised its commitment to the objective of decolonisation. It is important to mull, at this moment, that even though India was officially decolonised 70 years ago, the colonial mindset prevails in most of our day-to-day practices, including our understanding of history, heritage and its conservation. Like other places in India, Haryana and Gurugram also need to focus on decolonisation of history, heritage or even urban planning for this Millennium City. Probably, the process of renaming Gurgaon to Gurugram was a step in this direction, but one needs to look deeper into more in-depth approaches to decolonisation, rather than just a superficial name change. Such a decolonisation process for heritage needs to be addressed at two levels — first is our understanding and interpretation of what history and heritage, locally, are for the people of Gurugram, its possible links at the national level and further associations at the international level, if any; secondly, our approach for conserving such heritage also needs to be addressed in terms of local values and traditional craftsmanship vis-à-vis existing colonial perceptions of the picturesque ‘ruined look’ promoted by the British as an ideal conservation strategy for monuments. So, the current historiography of Gurugram definitely needs to be reviewed in terms of its evolution from the Mahabharata period to various chronological phases, including later colonialization under the British and the role of local freedom fighters. The gazetteer records are interesting and authentic, being most referenced to explain the city’s history, but we need to understand that the gazetteer itself is a continued product of the colonial period. It is surely an excellent and possibly the only existing historical record for Gurugram, but it is possible to piece together the city’s history by searching for more historical details and maps through earlier texts written in different historical periods, ranging from Rigveda, Manu Smriti to records of Bana Bhat and Huan Tsang or later inscriptions of Muhammed Bin Tughlaq and the Mughal Atlas of India. Its role in later periods, during the civil disobedience movement, is notable. Deeper research on the city’s history, local voices, sites and their continuous associations is essential. This becomes increasingly difficult since the data and existing monuments in Gurugram region are largely from the colonial period. However, it is heartening to see attempts at rewriting history of the region in decolonised perspectives such as Michel Danino’s book ‘The Lost River’ on the search for Saraswati or Shail Mayaram’s anthropological approach to the search of Meo identity. On the other hand, we have a parallel challenge in conserving Gurugram’s built heritage. INTACH was earlier questioned on the white shades of limewash while conserving the lost monument of Dhauli Pyao and the recently protected Taoru tombs, due to people’s perception that old historic structures should retain their antique and dilapidated look. In Haryana, like other places in India, we are fortunate to have the knowledge of traditional materials, such as lime and stone carving, along with living craftspeople from adjoining regions of Rajasthan, whose forefathers even built the historic monuments in Delhi and Haryana. However, we often face the challenge that our colonial mindset is more comfortable with the ‘ruined’ and ‘ancient’ look of the monument as practised since colonial times through the dictums formulated for the Archaeological Survey of India in early 20th century. It is true that some of our ancient and early medieval heritage is irreplaceable and any conservation attempt should be minimal to retain this important record of history, but at the same time, there are later-period structures that can be restored well by our craftspeople. It is extremely important for us to continue and promote the traditional knowledge of building materials and crafts, which is at an increasing risk of being lost. The historians, conservation architects, heritage practitioners as well as the people of Gurugram, today, need to rise to these challenges of decolonising Gurugram’s and Haryana’s history and heritage. Shikha Jain is state convenor, INTACH Haryana Chapter and member of Heritage Committees under ministries of culture and HRD. She is co-¬editor of book ‘Haryana: Cultural Heritage Guide’; director, DRONAH (Development and Research Organisation.

- https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/need-to-get-rid-of-colonial-mindset-in-conserving-heritage-monuments/story-HDP9yVU897bdhiyQgZZyYO.html, May 27, 2019

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Madhya Pradesh to tentatively have new UNESCO heritage site

Orchha town in Madhya Pradesh has a plethora of historical sites with the Bundela dynasty architectural style. The Archaeological Survey of India has included that heritage town of Orchha in a tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites. It was included in the proposal sent by the ASI to the UN body on April 15, 2019. UNESCO’s rules state that to be a part of the World Heritage sites, the heritage or historical site must first be on the tentative list. After making it to that list, yet another proposal is sent to the UNESCO. In their initial proposal, the ASI had requested that Orchha be included as a cultural heritage site, reported The Hindu. The town of Orchha is situated on the banks of the river Betwa. It is situated 80km from the Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh and 15km from Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh. The town was built by King Rudra Pratap Singh of the Bundela dynasty. The 16th century town is famous for several culturally significant sites such as the Chaturbhuj Temple, Orchha Fort and Raja Mahal among other sites. Saavan and Bhadon are two elevated minarets that Orchha is famous for, including several other Palaces like Raj Mahal, Sheesh Mahal and Rai Praveen Mahal. Orchha is also famous for its unique concept of open bungalows and stone work windows. Bundela style of architecture is heavily influenced by Mughal architecture. Veer Singh Dev, a famous Bundela king is said to have been a close friend of Emperor Jehangir and also said to have fought wars for Akbar. Yet another remarkable feature of Bundela is that it is the only place in India where Lord Rama is worshipped as a King rather than as a deity. There is also a dedicated temple knows as Sri Ram Raja Mandir.

- https://www.asianage.com/life/more-features/270519/madhya-pradesh-to-tentatively-have-new-unesco-heritage-site.html, May 28, 2019

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Most Indians visit museums only on school trips. A few people are trying to fix that

Initiatives like The Heritage Lab, ReReeti and Eka are trying to inject some energy into India’s dull and dreary museums. On March 21, among the millions of videos and images posted on Instagram, there was a challenge to mark World Poetry Day. The Heritage Lab uploaded a painting of Zeb-un-Nissa by Abanindranath Tagore and asked its followers to complete a couplet by the Mughal princess-poet in English. The response was heartening. The challenge was part of The Heritage Lab’s campaign These Mughal Women, in which people are invited through quizzes and contests to share an artwork, an object from a museum or anything they came across related to women in the Mughal court. The idea is to encourage discussion about art found in museums, which ties in with The Heritage Lab’s overarching goal: making museums more accessible and inclusive through social media campaigns, games and activities. For most Indians, their association with museums ends with that mandatory school trip. But today, there are a handful of organisations – such as The Heritage Lab, ReReeti, Eka, Museums of India, Museums of Ahmedabad – which are trying to ensure that the connect with museums doesn’t peter out after that one trip, but endures long afterwards. “The Heritage Lab started with the idea that there is not much information about museum objects available even for educators,” said founder Medhavi Gandhi. “I realised that there are people who are interested in understanding art in museums in a simplified manner...but don’t know where they would find [this] information.” These Mughal Women is one of the many initiatives that The Heritage Lab has undertaken since its inception in 2016. Last year, it hosted the India chapter of the international campaign Ask a Curator, in which curators from Piramal Museum, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai, Partition Museum in Amritsar and the digital museum Sarmaya, among others, responded to queries from the public about art, collections in their museum and their job profile. On May 18, the International Museum Day, it collaborated with CSMVS in Mumbai and National Museum in Delhi to host photo walks. The participants took pictures inside the two museums and posted it on Instagram, said Gandhi – the prize for the two winners was cameras. The Heritage Lab is also supporting #ChaloMuseum, a public awareness initiative rolled out by the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. Later this year, Gandhi will travel to Berlin where, in collaboration with the International Council of Museums, she will develop a digital toolkit for museums in India and Europe to enable better engagement with the public.

Finding stories

Like The Heritage Lab, ReReeti was set up to curate experiences that it hoped would bring families, schools and students to museums. Things did turn out that way. It soon realised that schools are unable to “get students to [do] more than a field-trip kind of a thing,” said Tejshvi Jain, founder of Bengaluru-based ReReeti. So, Jain decided to take museums to students through “travelling exhibitions”. Its last successful project, called Entrenched, covered aspects of the First World War – including “warfare, weaponry, popular culture” – but in Bengaluru. “We [were] able to reach 15,000 students and adults in different schools,” said Jain, “and change the perception...about not just Bengaluru’s contribution...but also India’s contribution” to the First World War. A sensorial exhibition, Entrenched involved “two tunnels – there was a play of light and darkness, smoke, sound, which gave a holistic experience to the visitors”. The content, says Jain, was curated with three partner schools. The exhibition won the Best Graduate Project at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad and is now being planned for various government schools in Bengaluru. Though the two-member outfit is yet to break even, it did manage to source “the initial amount” for Entrenched through crowdfunding. “Now we charge schools a small fee to set up the exhibition,” said Jain. One of ReReeti’s initial projects was at Janapada Loka, a folk museum in Ramanagara, around 50 km from Bengaluru. During the session, it spoke about the traditions of puppetry, focusing on the leather puppets of Karnataka. When the participants were told to work with the puppets and narrate a story, they realised just how tough puppetry is. Though these initial projects weren’t successful, they helped ReReeti identify the direction it needed to take, which would get the common man interested in art.

Understanding the narrative

While The Heritage Lab and ReReeti are working to create a bridge between people and museums, Eka Cultural Resources and Research is trying to ensure that once visitors reach a museum, they feel compelled to stay on and explore its heritage. Eka operates in the niche field of museum consultancy, and has revamped a few museums and worked on new ones as well. The Delhi-based company offers services such as research, archiving and documentation, programming, outreach, conservation, curation, collections management and publishing. Among the projects it has completed are City Palace Museum, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum, Amrapali Museum and Anokhi Museum in Jaipur, Kasturbhai Lalbhai Museum in Ahmedabad, and Manjusha Museum in Dharmasthala, Karnataka. “We started from being a service-based company, where we were helping museums and other organisations in executing services,” said Deepthi Sasidharan, director of Eka. Today, it is “handholding and creating cultural institutions”. Pramod Kumar KG, who founded Eka in 2009, felt that understanding the narrative of the collection has been the starting point of Eka’s growth. “...some level of our success has been because we are able to interpret the story and present it aesthetically in a more exciting manner for the layperson,” he explained. “If it is a dull dark room, no one wants to be there, but if it is [a] fun room with things well lit up, you get a sense of things, you understand what the larger story is.” One such successful “story” involves the collection acquired by industrialist Kasturbhai Lalbhai – who started Arvind Mills in 1931 – which is on display at the Kasturbhai Lalbhai Museum in Ahmedabad. The 114-year-old mansion that houses the museum was home to the Lalbhai family. “The client was very clear what they wanted,” said Kumar. “They wanted their private collection to be accessible to people, but also wanted people to see how they saw it and enjoyed it in a home. The second priority was that the members who have lived there in the past, many of them are seniors and are still around, [and] they should still feel a connect...it shouldn’t be a chrome and glass building with no connection [with] where they grew up.” The three buildings in the complex display traditional, modern and contemporary Indian art and the warmth is unmistakable. One of the underlying objectives of The Heritage Lab, ReReeti and Eka is to get more people to join the museum industry. “People need to know that conservation, curation, restoration and archaeology can be mainstream career choices,” said Gandhi. “We also need to have more scholarship around the collections housed in our museums. A school may not identify with a podcast created by a British Museum, but they will identify with it if it’s created by the National Museum.”

- https://scroll.in/magazine/923447/the-men-and-women-who-are-trying-to-inject-some-energy-into-indias-dull-and-dreary-museums, May 29, 2019

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INTACH hosts interactive meet on military heritage

INTACH Jammu Chapter in collaboration with the Centre for History and Culture, University of Jammu, organised an interactive meet on ‘Military Heritage of Jammu Cantonment’ as a part of documentation and listing of built heritage of Jammu. Maj Gen G S Jamwal, (Retd) formal Military Secretary to the President of India and Advisor INTACH Jammu Chapter was the Chief Guest while Professor Jigar Mohammed, former Dean Research Studies University of Jammu was the Guest of Honour.

A galaxy of retired army officers, academicians, members of INTACH, scholars and student attended the maiden meet on military heritage. In his address, the Chief Guest lauded initiatives of the organisers for holding the meeting and stressed for more efforts to raise social consciousness for promotion of such narratives.

Earlier, Prof Sham Lal, Head of Department of History expressed gratitude to INTACH Jammu chapter for initiating a project of immense importance for present as well as future generation. S M Sahni, retired Convener INTACH Jammu Chapter explained salient features of the project with its importance at national as well as State level. He also made presentation on built heritage components of the military heritage of Jammu cantonment. Vipul Magotra focused on Topi Bungalow, Cantonment Railway Station, Training Centre, Telegraph Office, Satwari House, Military Hospital and War Memorial etc.

Kuldeep Wahi, Member proposed vote of thanks while Prof Sudhir Singh, Life Member INTACH conducted proceedings of the programme. Others present on the occasion included Vinod Malhotra, former Development Commissioner Town Planning; Sandeep Singh, Dr Rajesh Sharma, Sapna Sharma, Major S L Khajuria, Rajendra Singh, Dr Gopal Sharma, Dr Priyanka Katoch and Dr Sanjeet Sharma.

- http://news.statetimes.in/intach-hosts-interactive-meet-on-military-heritage/, May 30, 2019

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A workshop to understand cinema at its best

Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage is offering a five-day workshop titled Still and Moving Images: Understanding Documentaries.

The event will include watching documentaries and understanding its aspect, discussions, readings and short-film making with Nilgiri’s heritage as the theme. Registrations for the workshop which will take place from June 18 to 22 are now open. Starts at `1,250. At YWCA. Details: 98453-76704.

- https://www.indulgexpress.com/events/coimbatore/2019/may/31/a-workshop-to-understand-cinema-at-its-best-15385.html, May 31, 2019

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